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Sunday 1 March 2015  •   11 Alder Moon 2015

Viewing the night sky in Alder Moon 2015

19 February - 20 March 2015

Map of night sky at full moon: 5 March, 18:06 UT
Northern hemisphere perspective, aligned on the ecliptic. Morning sky to the left, evening to the right.

night sky map for Alder Moon 2015

There is a total eclipse of the sun at dark moon on 20 March, the day of the equinox. The total shadow of the sun falls to Earth in the North Atlantic, south of Greenland, and swings round over Rockall, through the Faroe Islands and up to Svalbard before finishing at the North Pole, where the sun is on the horizon at the start of the summer day. At Rockall, the total eclipse lasts about two minutes from 09:30 to 09:31; in Tórshavn, in the Faroes, it lasts from 09:41 to 09:42 UT; in Longyearbyen, in Svalbard, from 11:11 to 11:12 (10:11 to 10:12 UT); at the North Pole from about 10:16 to 10:18 UT. As seen from Tórshavn, the partial eclipse starts at 08:38 and finishes at 10:48. A partial eclipse is visible from Europe, North & West Africa (except the Guinea Coast) and parts of western Asia. In most of Europe, the further north-west you are, the better.

Seyðisfjörður 99.5% of the sun covered at 09:43 UT
Reykjavik 97.7% of the sun covered at 09:37 UT
Leknes, Lofoten Islands, 96.3% at 11:05 (10:05 UT)
Tromsø 95% at 11:09 (10:09 UT)
Bergen 92.5% at 10:50 (09:50 UT)
Oslo 88.5% at 10:54 (09:54 UT)
Lerwick 96.8% at 09:43 UT
Esha Ness, Shetland, 97.4% at 09:44 UT
Kirkwall 96.5% at 09:40 UT
Cape Wrath 97.4% at 09:38 UT
Stornoway / Steòrnabhagh 97.7% at 09:36 UT
Callanish / Calanais 97.8% at 09:36 UT
St Kilda 97.9% at 09:34 UT
Hogha Gearraidh, North Uist 97.6% 09:34 UT
Inverness 95.7% at 09:37 UT
Edinburgh 93.1% at 09:35 UT
Glasgow 93.7% at 09:34 UT
Belfast 93.1% at 09:31 UT
Derry/Londonderry 94.4% at 09:31 UT
Malin Head, Co Donegal 95.0% at 09:31 UT
Toraigh / Tory Island, Co Donegal 95.3% at 09:30 UT
Galway 93.2% at 09:26 UT
Cork 90.9% at 09:24 UT
Dublin 91.6% at 09:29 UT
Holyhead 90.5% at 09:30 UT
Cardiff 86.7% at 09:28 UT
Truro 86.0% at 09:25 UT
Manchester 89.1% at 09:32 UT
London 84.4% at 09:31 UT
Berlin 74% at 10:48 (09:48 UT)
Stockholm 82.0% at 11:01 (10:01 UT)
Warsaw 66% at 10:59 (09:59 UT)
Moscow 58% at 14:20 (10:20 UT)
Paris 77% at 10:34 (09:34 UT)
Brest 82.4% at 10:22 (09:22 UT)
A Coruña 76% at 10:10 (09:10 UT)
Lisbon 67% at 09:02 UT
Ponta Delgada 72% at 07:49 (08:49 UT)
Las Palmas 45% at 08:40 UT
Dakar 12% at 08:20 UT
Rome 54% at 10:34 (09:34 UT)
Athens 31% at 11:48 (09:48 UT)
Cairo 6% at 11:52 (09:52 UT)
Tehran 0.8% at 14:08 (10:38 UT)

Jupiter is still very bright in the evening and night sky. The moon is nearby on 3 March.

Venus is bright in the evening sky, with the dimmer Mars nearby. On the evening of 21 February, Venus is less than half a degree south of Mars. The new crescent moon is just a bit further out from the sunset, and is very close to Uranus, which you can see easily through binoculars. The moon occults Uranus as seen from Mexico, the USA and eastern Canada, after dark for the more eastern parts. As seen from New York, the moon covers Uranus at 17:53 (22:53 UT) on 21 February, about twenty minutes after sunset. Uranus re-emerges at 18:54 (23:54 UT).

On 4 March, Venus passes just five minutes of arc north of Uranus, a great opportunity to see Uranus, and a wonderful view through binoculars, where you may also be able to pick out Venus’ current gibbous phase. Mars is about five degrees in towards the sunset. Mars passes 16 minutes north of Uranus on 11 March.

Mercury reaches 26.8°W of the sun on 24 February in the morning sky: an especially good view from the southern hemisphere, where it will be visible in the E/ESE for a few weeks either side of that date.

Saturn is in the morning sky, rising an hour or two after midnight, to the north of the front end of Scorpius. The moon is nearby on the morning of 12 March.

The month ahead: Willow Moon 2015

21 March - 18 April 2015

Map of night sky at full moon: 4 April, 13:06 UT
Northern hemisphere perspective, aligned on the ecliptic. Morning sky to the left, evening to the right.

night sky map for Willow Moon 2015

Venus is brightening in the evening sky, while Mars slips from view into the sunset. On 11 April, Venus is 2.5° south of the Pleiades. Jupiter shines very brightly in the evening and night sky, setting a couple of hours before dawn. The moon is nearby on 30 March. On 12 April, the Earth passes through the plane of the orbit of Jupiter’s main moons, and so their movement appears to be entirely side to side. Watch Io and its shadow cross Jupiter from 18:52 to 22:18 on 13 April, and Ganymede do the same the following evening, though its shadow doesn’t cross the planet until the moon itself has passed. Saturn rises at midnight or soon before, and is still north of the main stars of Scorpius, brighter than its bright red star, Antares. On 23 March, it passes half a degree north of Nu Scorpii, a set of maybe seven stars orbiting around each other over 430 light years away. See how many you can see through a telescope, and then move the field of view north to look at Saturn to see, if you can, its cloud systems, its rings and some of its many moons. Earth’s moon is near Saturn in the sky as we see it on 7 and 8 April. At full moon on 4 April, there is a short-lived total eclipse of the moon, visible from Australia and New Zealand, the Pacific, the west coast of North America and the east coast of Asia. Totality lasts from just 11:57 to 12:02 UTC/GMT, locally 22:57 to 23:02 in south-eastern Australia and 04:57 to 05:02 in California, both on 4 April. The partial eclipse is from 10:15 to 13:44 UTC. On 21 March, the very new moon occults Uranus over central Africa and the Middle East during daylight hours. It then goes on to occult Mars over the far south Pacific Ocean.

William Morris
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