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Monday 24 October 2016  •   23 Ivy Moon 2016 (night)

Viewing the night sky in Ivy Moon 2016

1 - 30 October 2016

Map of night sky at full moon: 16 October, 04:23 UTC
Northern hemisphere perspective, aligned on the ecliptic. Morning sky to the left, evening to the right.

night sky map for Ivy Moon 2016

Merrcury is visible in the morning sky for the first part of the month, especially as seen from the northern hemisphere.
Venus rises further into the evening sky and begins to brighten noticeably, as it moves nearer to the Earth. The moon is nearby on 3 October.

The less bright Saturn is also in the evening sky. Around the start of the month, its close encounter with Mars behind it, it is now being approached by Venus. On 7 October, it is roughly half way between the two bright planets. On 27 October, Saturn, Venus and the bright red star Antares are in a row, about three degrees apart. On 29 October, Venus passes 3°S of Saturn, with Antares still nearby. Further still out from the sunset is Mars. The moon is near Saturn on the evenings of 5 & 6 October, and near Mars on 7 & 8 October. On 7 October, with the Pacific side of Earth turned towards them, Mars passes ten minutes of arc south of the star Kaus Borealis, or Lambda Sagittarii.

Jupiter rises slowly into the morning from behind the sun, and on 11 Oct, Mercury passes 0.8° north of Jupiter. On the morning of 28 October, the old crescent moon is just to the north of Jupiter.

Uranus comes to opposition on 15 October, 2835 million kilometres or 157.6 light minutes from Earth. At magnitude 5.7, it is just too faint for most people to see with the naked eye, but you should see it well in binoculars amongst the stars of Pisces.

The dwarf planet Ceres comes to opposition, and its nearest to Earth and brightest, on 21 October, when it is 284.2 million kilometres or 15.8 light minutes away. At magnitude 7, it is too faint to see with the naked eye, but look for it through binoculars or a telescope in the north of Cetus, directly between Alpha Piscium and Zeta Ceti (nearer Alpha Piscium).

Look out for the Orionid meteors on 21/22 October, especially just before the moon rises.

The month ahead: Yew Moon 2016

31 October - 29 November 2016

Map of night sky at full moon: 14 November, 08:33 UTC
Northern hemisphere perspective, aligned on the ecliptic. Morning sky to the left, evening to the right.

night sky map for Yew Moon 2016

Venus brightens further in the western evening sky, At the start of the month, it is close to Saturn. On 2 November, the moon is near the two planets. Saturn moves gradually closer to the sunset, while Mercury rises into the evening sky during the course of the month, well seen from the southern hemisphere, but hard to see from the north. On 23 November, Mercury passes 3.4°S of Saturn.

Further out from the sunset, Mars has by this month faded so far that it is merely as bright as Saturn, but still more brilliant than almost all the stars. On the evening of 6 November, the moon passes by to the north, and Mars enters Capricornus on 8 November.

Jupiter rises further into the morning sky, in the constellation Virgo. On the morning of 25 November, the moon is nearby.

On 14 November, the dwarf planet Ceres, too faint to see with the naked eye, passes close to the much fainter dwarf planet Eris. Ceres is just over a degree to the north-east. While Ceres is in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, Eris is further from the sun than Pluto, and very faint.

Look out for the Leonid meteors on 17/18 November, though the waning gibbous moon may dampen the display.

William Morris
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