Category Archives: Observing

Super Moon Eclipse

I’ve been waiting for this eclipse with great anticipation.  I am starting to get settled in to a new location and my skies seem to be nice and  dark.  I probably won’t have the big scope up for a while but I certainly can try to get a decent picture of the eclipse.

I will be participating in the Globe@Night project for October.  You can go to Globe@Night pretty much anytime to see how your skies compare in a measurable way to other locations.  In my case I will compare this place to my former residence of 25 years.  I saw light pollution at my old location degrade my skies by about almost a full magnitude and it happened in just a couple of years.  So Globe@Night is great idea and it is so well done, if you haven’t heard about it before, I will recommend it highly  – it is an especially good  project for the kids that mom and dad can do too.

Anyway, to get back on track, I have always found taking a decent picture of the moon  with a SLR and no filter kind of hit or miss.  So this time I went to YouTube for help and found this video:  Photographing the Total Eclipse (hat tip to Schuch Designs). I will try the settings the video gives at 02:18 into the video. The one thing I need is decent skies and according to the forecast they should be good — I’m still optimistic though.



I am hearing a CME occurred on the Sun and has resulted in a great light show in the form of an aurora.  If it is dark where you are, go out and have a look, it’s only mid-afternoon here so it could be over by the time darkness gets here.

Venus and the Moon

I looked out the window last night and Venus and the thin crescent Moon made a nice pair in the cloudy sky.


The pair won’t be lined up quite this way tonight or the next few nights but you should see Venus and Jupiter paired up just at sunset. All you need to do is look in the Western sky. Venus will be west of the Moon and Jupiter will be west of and lower in the sky than Venus. As days go by Venus and Jupiter will get farther away from the Moon at Sunset.

You can seem everything with no extra optical aids, however if you have binoculars give them a try. With binoculars you probably can get Jupiter and Venus in the same field of view and you also should be able to see a few of Jupiter’s moons if it is dark enough.

See Mercury in the Morning Sky


This morning the planet Mercury is at maximum western elongation. This means we will be able to see Mercury in the early morning just before sunrise especially for the next few days.

Yes, western elongation means Mercury will be in the eastern sky before sunrise. It can be a little confusing at first. The western/eastern elongation is the position relative to the Sun not the Earth.

So western elongation means Mercury is west of the sun and that being true will rise in our eastern sky before the sun. Mercury this morning will reach an altitude of 22 degrees before sunrise. If you have a good view of the eastern sky you will get to see it (for the next few days at least) in the twilight before the Sun gets too bright. I know, it’s early morning for the northern hemisphere but so worth it. I am pretty close to a mountain range and that interferes so I’m taking a drive to get a better look IF the clouds stay away.

In September the planet will reach eastern elongation so it will appear in the western sky just after sunset.

Check it out if you can.

Image Credit:
NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Lunar Occultation June 11


If you are in Australia you will be treated to a lunar occultation on 11 June 2015.

The moon is going to occult the planet Uranus. Uranus is a magnitude 5.9 so with a modest telescope should be visible. It could even be visible with binoculars. I personally have not been able to see the planet in binoculars however the sky conditions here (light pollution) is what I blame. Image stabilizing binoculars would help – and they are wonderful for sky viewing! I wish I had a pair. The big question is how much glare from the moon is going to hinder things. There is a huge difference in brightness between the two so the planet will be lost in the glare at some point well before it goes behind the moon. It still counts though and very well worth the effort to look though. I’d be out there.

Anyway the actual time varies depending on where your are of course. Australia is a big place! To give you a quick reference Adelaide has a time of 18:49.27 UTC.   To find the occultation time for you, have a visit to this page, the source of the above image, it has times for a extensive list of places to help you out, they do a great job.

The link mentioned above is specific for this occultation. Their main page is a place you can also find occultations of all kinds for pretty much any place and other useful occultation links.  Occultations, lunar and otherwise, usually don’t occur all that often for a specific location so they are a treat.

Hopefully this post gives you enough time to prepare.  The time conversion has me tied in knots so I figured I better be a couple days early.  Good luck!