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Monday 3 August 2015  •   19 Holly Moon 2015

Viewing the night sky in Holly Moon 2015

16 July - 14 August 2015

Map of night sky at full moon: 31 July, 11:43 UT
Northern hemisphere perspective, aligned on the ecliptic. Morning sky to the left, evening to the right.

night sky map for Holly Moon 2015

On the evening of 18 July, the new crescent moon is near the Venus-Jupiter pair immediately after sunset, and this may be your last chance to see Jupiter before it slips behind the sun. Venus is passing this side of the sun, and is very bright, albeit low down in the west, and sinking fast. If you look at it through binoculars or a small telescope, you should easily make out the crescent shape. On 18/19 July, the moon is so close to Venus that it occults it as seen from north-east Australia and the nearby Pacific in daylight on 19 July, and from French Polynesia just after sunset on 18 July. By full moon, even Venus is out of view. Further out into the evening sky is Saturn, setting around midnight, between Libra and Scorpius. The moon is nearby on the evenings of 25 and 26 July. Mars begins to emerge into the morning sky, rising just before dawn. The very old moon is nearby, but well to its south, on the morning of 13 August. On 5 August, the moon occults Uranus after dark over extreme SE South America. Look out for the wonderful Perseid meteors on 11/12 August. This year, the moon is in its old crescent phase, and doesn’t outdazzle the display, even when it rises in the early hours. See also the Delta Aquarid meteors on 27/28 July, though the waxing gibbous moon makes them harder to see until it sets in the early hours.

The month ahead: Hazel Moon 2015

15 August - 13 September 2015

Map of night sky at full moon: 29 August, 19:36 UT
Northern hemisphere perspective, aligned on the ecliptic. Morning sky to the left, evening to the right.

night sky map for Hazel Moon 2015

On 4 September, Mercury reaches 27°E of the sun in the evening sky, a great view from the southern hemisphere, where it will be visible for a couple of weeks either side of that date. Almost impossible to see from northern lands.

Saturn is further out in the evening sky, between the stars of Libra and Scorpius, and setting in the late evening. The half moon is nearby on 22 August. By the end of the month, it is becoming hard to see from northern parts of Earth, being low down in the twilight in the south-west.

Neptune comes to opposition on 1 September, and is closest to Earth on 31 August, 4330 million kilometres away, or just over four light hours.

At Dark Moon on 13 September, a partial eclipse of the sun is visible from southern Africa (at or soon after sunrise) and much of Eastern Antarctica. In Cape Town, 30% of the sun is covered at 07:42 (05:42 UT).

In the early hours of 2 September, the moon occults Uranus as seen from the South Island of New Zealand.

Mars rises further into the morning sky and, during the month, Venus joins it, very brightly. By the morning of 2 September, you should be able to see them together in the pre-dawn twilight, with Venus almost nine degrees south of Mars. The old moon is near Venus on 10 September. By the end of the month, you may just be able to see Jupiter in the east, below Venus and Mars. The very old crescent is near it on 12 September.

William Morris
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