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Thursday, 18 July 2019  •  Thursday, 16 Holly Moon 2019

Watching the night sky in Holly Moon 2019

3 - 31 July 2019

Map of night sky at full moon: 16 July, 21:38 UTC
Northern hemisphere perspective, aligned on the ecliptic. Morning sky to the left, evening to the right.

night sky map for Holly Moon 2019

At full moon on 16 July, there is a partial eclipse of the moon, visible at moonrise in Western Europe, and also in most of the rest of Europe away from the far north, South America, Africa, most of Asia and Australasia. Well over half of the moon will be in shadow at maximum eclipse. The difficult to see penumbral phase starts at 19:43 (18:43 UTC), and the main partial phase lasts from 21:01 to 23:59 (20:01 to 22:59 UTC). The penumbral phase is over at 01:17 on 17 July (00:17 UTC).

Mars is in the western evening sky after sunset. On the evening of 4 July, the new crescent moon is near Mercury and Mars, easier to see from the southern hemisphere. On the evening of 8 July, unseen from northern lands, Mercury passes well south of Mars, as it falls back into the sunset. On 12 July, low in the west-north-west, Mars is in front of the Beehive Cluster. By the end of the month, as seen from northern lands, Mars sinks into the sunset, as it begins to pass behind the sun. In southern lands, Mars can still be seen, low in the WNW.

Jupiter shines very brightly in the evening and early night sky. On the evening of 13 July, the moon passes fairly close to its north.

Rising a couple of hours after Jupiter is Saturn, which is opposite the sun on 9 July and shines all night in the constellation Sagittarius. It is the closest that it comes to Earth in its orbit: 1351.4 million kilometres, or 75.13 light minutes away. Its ring system is currently on good display, and can be seen though good binoculars and telescopes. On 15/16 July, the moon passes very close to Saturn, occulting it as seen from French Polynesia and central parts of South America. From Papeete on Tahiti, the moon covers Saturn on 15 July from 19:22 to 20:15 (16 Jul, 05:22 to 06:15 UTC); from Santiago de Chile on 16 July from 04:03 to 04:59 (08:03 to 08:59 UTC); from Buenos Aires from 05:22 to 05:50 (08:22 to 08:50 UTC); from Rio de Janeiro from 05:29 to 06:09 (08:29 to 09:09 UTC).

Very close to Saturn in the sky is the dwarf planet Pluto, which comes closest to Earth on 12 July, 4910 million kilometres or 4.5 light hours away. It can be seen from Earth only with powerful telescopes.

On the morning of 31 July, as seen from the northern hemisphere only, the very thin, old crescent moon may be just visible to the north of Mercury.

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

Look out for the Delta Aquarid meteors on the night 28/29 July, especially after midnight.

The month ahead: Hazel Moon 2019

1 - 30 August 2019

Map of night sky at full moon: 15 August, 12:29 UTC
Northern hemisphere perspective, aligned on the ecliptic. Morning sky to the left, evening to the right.

night sky map for Hazel Moon 2019

Jupiter shines very brightly in the evening sky, setting around midnight. On the evening of 9 August, the moon is north of the giant planet. Not far round to the south (as seen from the northern hemisphere) is Saturn, which sets in the early hours, and can be seen in the north of the constellation Sagittarius. Jupiter is gradually moving through the starry background towards the ringed planet. On 12 August, the moon passes very near to Saturn, and occults it as seen from parts of the South Pacific, the east coast of Australia (New South Wales northwards) and Papua New Guinea.

From Sydney in Australia, the occultation lasts from 18:36 to 19:23 (08:36 to 09:23 UTC).
From Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea, the occultation starts just before sunset, and lasts from 17:56 to 19:03 (07:56 to 09:03 UTC).
From Suva in Fiji, the occultation lasts from 21:12 to 22:45 (09:12 to 10:45 UTC).
From Papeete on Tahiti, the occultation lasts from 00:36 to 01:51 (10:36 to 11:51 UTC). All times, local and UTC, are for 12 August.

On 8 August, Mercury reaches 19°W of the sun in the eastern morning sky. The view isn’t great from anywhere on Earth, but a little easier from the northern hemisphere, where Mercury may be seen low down in the east-north-east before dawn for all but the last week or so of the month.

Venus passes the far side of the sun on 14 August, and is out of view all month.
Mars is also on the far side of the solar system. At the start of the month, it may still be seen low in the WNW in southern lands, but soon disappears into the twilight.

Look out for the great northern summer meteor shower, the Perseids, on the night 12/13 August, especially in the early hours, when the moon is more out of the way.

William Morris
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