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Thursday 23 October 2014  •   28 Ivy Moon 2014 (night)

Viewing the night sky in Ivy Moon 2014

25 September - 23 October 2014

Map of night sky at full moon: 8 October, 10:50 UT
Northern hemisphere perspective, aligned on the ecliptic. Morning sky to the left, evening to the right.

night sky map for Ivy Moon 2014

The new moon on 25 September is well nigh impossible to see from northern lands, due to the low angle of the ecliptic with the horizon. If you are further south, and can see it, you will find Mercury and the bright star Spica to its left. Mercury soon disappears from southern skies, brightening as it moves towards this side of the sun. Saturn is moving more slowly towards the sunset, and is still visible from the northern hemisphere as well, albeit low in the south-west. The moon is close by on the evening of 27 September, and occults it over the north Pacific (Honolulu) and (in daylight) over Japan and nearby continental Asia. As seen from Honolulu, the moon covers Saturn from 05:35 to 06:27 UT, 28 Sep (19:35 to 18:27 HST, 27 Sep). Not much further out from the sun is Mars, and the moon passes north of it on the evening of 29 September. In turn Mars is north of the red giant star Antares in Scorpius, not quite so bright as Mars. There is a total eclipse of the moon on 8 October, visible from the Pacific and adjacent lands. The total eclipse lasts from 10:25 to 11:23 UT, that is 20:25 to 21:23 in Sydney and 00:25 to 01:23 in Honolulu (all 8 Oct). With the moon in eclipse, use binoculars or a telescope to look out for Uranus, just to its south. You may even just be able to see the faint planet with the naked eye if you have dark enough skies. The eclipsed moon occults Uranus as seen from the north pole from 10:11 to 10:51 UT.

At dark moon on 23 October, there is a partial eclipse of the sun visible from North America and the extreme far east of Russia. The greatest eclipse is in the Canadian High Arctic, near Qikiqtaq (King William Island) where, at Uqsuqtuuq (Gjoa Haven), the sun will cover 74% of the moon at 21:50 UT (15:50 MDT), with them very low on the south-western horizon, and setting a few minutes later as a dramatic crescent. As seen from Anchorage, the sun covers 55% of the moon at maximum eclipse at 21:12 UT (13:12 AKDT); Vancouver 56% at 21:58 UT (14:58 PDT); San Francisco 39% at 22:16 UT (15:16 PDT); México 5% at 23:09 UT (18:09 CDT); Winnipeg 60% at 22:24 UT (17:24 CDT); New Orleans 21% at 23:01 (18:01 CDT) with the sun setting during the waning part of the eclipse for Winnipeg and New Orleans; Chicago 44% at 22:44 (17:44 CDT) with sunset just after maximum eclipse; for Atlanta the sun sets just before maximum eclipse; for Ottawa, New York and Miami, the eclipse is just starting when the sun sets, and no eclipse is seen at all from Honolulu, Québec, Boston and Nassau.

Mars passes into Ophiuchus on 25 September, though initially still close to Antares, and then into Sagittarius on 21 October. Ceres passes less than half a degree north of Saturn on 5 October.

Jupiter rises around midnight, and is prominent in the morning sky. On 16 October, it crosses into the constellation Leo, and on the morning of 18 October, the moon is nearby.

On 7 October, Uranus comes to opposition and its nearest to Earth this year, 2844 million kilometres or 158 light minutes away. At magnitude 5.71, it is probably just too faint to be visible with the naked eye, but do try, especially if you have good, dark skies. It is about three degrees south of the star Delta Piscium.

On the night of 11/12 October, the moon passes through the Hyades.

Look out for the Orionid meteors around 21 or 22 October.

Venus is over on the far side of the sun, and out of view.

The month ahead: Yew Moon 2014

24 October - 22 November 2014

Map of night sky at full moon: 6 November, 22:23 UT
Northern hemisphere perspective, aligned on the ecliptic. Morning sky to the left, evening to the right.

night sky map for Yew Moon 2014

Saturn is in the western evening sky, and the very new crescent moon is close to it on the evening of 25 October, occulting it over the North Atlantic and nearby lands. As seen from London, the moon covers Saturn while the sun is still up, but Saturn starts to emerge from behind the moon at 18:08 BST and, if you have a good view to the south-western horizon, you may be able to see the thin crescent of the moon and the pale dot of Saturn together in the twilight before they set just over half an hour later. Through a telescope, you should be able to see the ringed planet as it comes out from behind the moon’s barely lit limb. This is the last in this series of Moon-Saturn occultations.

As it does every two years and a bit, Mars hangs on in the western evening sky for months, as it moves through the constellations almost as fast as the sun does. As seen from northern lands, the effect is heightened this year by the fact that it is the season when sunset is getting earlier, though Mars is easier to see from southern lands, being among the southern stars of Sagittarius. The moon is north of Mars on the evening of 28 October.

Mercury comes out again into the morning sky, having passed Earth and the sun. It reaches 18.5°W of the sun on 1 November, and is somewhat easier to see from the northern hemisphere than the south.

The just past full moon passes through the Hyades on the evening of 8 November.

Jupiter rises in the late evening in the prominent constellation Leo, much brighter than its bright star, Regulus. On the night of 14/15 November, the waning half moon forms a pleasant grouping with Jupiter and Regulus.

On 4 November, the moon passes very close to Uranus, and occults it as seen from Iceland and the Faroe Islands. For Reykjavik, the southern edge of the moon covers Uranus from about 17:14 to 17:37 UT. For Tórshavn, the times are 17:16 to 17:28. For Steòrnabhagh (Stornoway) and Lerwick, the moon passes just to the north of the faint planet.

Look out for the Leonid meteors around 17 or 18 November.

The Rosetta probe is due to land on the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on 14 November.

Venus passes the far side of the sun on 25 October, and is out of view all month.

William Morris
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