May 10 - Full moon known as Frog Croaking Moon (Mi’kmaq)
May 11 - Double-shadow transit of moons on Jupiter’s disc (10:59 p.m. to 11:06 p.m.) Telescope needed
May 14 - Saturn to right of waning gibbous moon after midnight
May 18 - Last-quarter moon
May 22 - Venus to left of waning crescent moon in dawn east
May 23/24 - Mercury to left of waning crescent moon in dawn east, above moon the next day\
May 25 - New moon
May 26- Mars above very thin waxing crescent moon low in evening west
May 29 - Beehive star cluster to upper right of waxing crescent moon in evening west
May 31 - First-quarter moon. Bright star Regulus to the right
March 4 - Bright star Aldebaran 0.4 degrees above moon low in late evening west
March 5 - First-quarter moon
March 10 - Bright star Regulus one degree above waning gibbous moon in evening east
March 12 - Full moon known as Worm Moon or Maple Sugar Moon (Mi'kmaq)
March 12 - Daylight Saving Time begins at 2 a.m.
March 14 - Jupiter (rises at 8:27 p.m.) 2 degrees right of moon
March 20 - Vernal equinox at 7:29 a.m. ADT
March 20 - Last-quarter moon
March 20 - Saturn 3 degrees below moon in dawn south
March 26 - Neptune (binocs or scope needed) 1 degree above crescent moon very low in dawn east
March 27 - New moon
Feb. 4 - First-quarter moon
Feb. 11 - Full moon known as Snow Moon
Feb. 15 - Jupiter 3 degrees right of moon east after midnight
Feb. 18 - Last-quarter moon
Feb. 20 - Saturn 4 degrees below moon in dawn east
Feb. 26 - New moon
Feb. 28 - Venus above crescent moon in evening west, Mars to left and above Venus
Jan. 2 - Waxing crescent moon below, the next evening above, bright Venus in sunset west
Jan. 5 - First-quarter moon
Jan. 12 - Full moon, known as Wolf Moon or Old Moon (Native American); Mi’kmaq call the January moon cycle Tom Cod Spawning (Punamuiku's)
Jan. 19 - Jupiter 2 degrees right of last-quarter moon after midnight
Jan. 24/25 - Waning crescent moon left of Saturn in dawn east on Jan. 24, above Mercury on Jan. 25.
Jan. 27 - New moon
Jan. 31 - Venus left of waxing crescent moon in sunset west, Mars above moon
Dec. 2 /3 - Venus to left, the next night below, waxing crescent moon in evening west
Dec.4 / 5 - Mars to left, the next night below, crescent moon in evening southwest
Dec. 7 - First-quarter moon
Dec. 13 - Full moon known as Cold Moon or Chief Moon (Kesikewiku's)
Dec. 13 / 14 - Peak of Geminid meteor shower. Full moon will wash out all but brightest meteors.
Dec. 20 - Last-quarter moon
Dec. 21 - Winter solstice 6:44 a.m. ADT
Dec. 23 - Jupiter 1.5 degrees below waning crescent moon in dawn southeast
Dec. 25 - Merry Christmas. Thin crescent moon above summer constellation of Scorpius in dawn southeast
Dec. 30 - New moon
Nov. 1 / 2 - Venus to left of waxing crescent moon in evening southwest
Nov. 5 / 6 - Mars below waxing crescent moon in evening south
Nov. 6 - Daylight Savings Time ends (clocks fall back one hour)
Nov. 7 - First-quarter moon
Nov. 9 - Star Skat below moon
Nov. 14 - Full moon known as Beaver Moon, River Freezing Moon (Mi’kmaq)
Nov. 17/18 - Leonid meteor shower (waning gibbous moon interferes with viewing)
Nov. 21 - Last-quarter moon
Nov. 21 - Bright star Regulus near last-quarter moon after midnight
Nov. 25 - Jupiter right of waning crescent moon in dawn southeast
Nov. 29 - New moon
Oct. 3-4 - PHOTO OPP: Venus below waxing crescent moon in evening southwest
Oct. 5 - Saturn 5 degrees left of waxing crescent moon in evening southwest
Oct. 5 - Space the Final Frontier: Finding Exo-Planets presentation at Keshen-Goodmanlibrary at 7 p.m.
Oct. 8 - International Observe the Moon Night public events.
Oct. 9 - First-quarter moon
Oct. 11 - Mercury 0.5 degrees left of Jupiter very low in brightening dawn east
Oct. 13 - Constellations of the Zodiac at Dalhousie Planetarium at 7:15. Admission charge with pre-registration required. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Oct. 14 - Open house at Burke-Gaffney Observatory in Halifax. Free but pre-registration required.
Oct. 16 - Full moon known as Hunter’s Moon or Animal Fattening Moon (Mi’kmaw)
Oct. 20-21 - Peak of Orionids meteor shower
Oct. 22 - Last-quarter moon
Oct. 28 - Jupiter 1.5 degrees right of waning crescent moon moon in dawn east
Oct. 30 - New moon
Oct. 31 - Venus and Saturn to left of very thin crescent moon in sunset southwest
Sept. 1 - New moon
Sept. 3 - Venus below thin crescent moon after sunset in west
Sept. 6 - The Night Sky According to Star Trek, Halifax Central Library
Sept. 8 - Saturn waxing crescent below moon in evening south
Sept. 9 - First-quarter moon
Sept. 11 - Nova Scotia Bird Society's beginner birder's walk, Lawrencetown, Halifax County
Sept. 16 - Full moon known as Mating Call Moon (Wikumkewiku’s), Harvest Moon
Sept. 22 - Autumnal equinox begins at 11:21 a.m.
Sept. 23 - Last-quarter moon
Sept. 24 - Nova Scotia Bird Society's early fall migrants, Taylor Head Provincial Park
Sept. 29 - Mercury 1 degree from very thin crescent moon in dawn east
Sept. 30 - New moon
Every Friday - Tours of Burke-Gaffney Observatory at Saint Mary's University
Aug. 2 - New moon
Aug. 5 - PHOTO OPP: Jupiter one degree east of waning crescent moon in evening west
Aug. 5 to Aug. 7 - Dark Sky Weekend at Kejimkujik National Park
Aug. 6 - Mid-summer bird walk, Taylor Head (Nova Scotia Bird Society)
Aug. 10 - First-quarter moon
Aug. 11 - Saturn right of waxing gibbous moon in evening south with Mars below
Aug. 11/12 - Perseid meteor shower predicted to be most active since 2008. Best observed after midnight when moon has set
Aug. 11 and Sept. 1 - Halifax Planetarium show Downtown Milky Way
Aug. 18 - Full moon known as Sturgeon Moon or Green Corn Moon
Aug. 19 - Neptune just east of waning gibbous moon all evening (binocular or telescope needed). Pairing closes to within one degree by dawn in southwest
Aug. 25 - Last-quarter moon
Sept. 1 - New moon
Every Friday - Open house at Burke-Gaffney Observatory at Saint Mary’s University
July 4 - New moon
July 7 & 21 - Halifax Planetarium show Journey to the Centre of Our Galaxy, both shows 7:15 p.m. Registration required.
July 8 - Jupiter above waxing crescent moon in evening west
July 9 - Beginning Birders, Taylor Head (Nova Scotia Bird Society)
July 11- First-quarter moon
July 14 - Mars to right of waxing gibbous moon, Saturn to left, in evening south
July 15 - Mars below waxing gibbous moon in evening south
July 17 - Slow and easy birdwatching Taylor Head (Nova Scotia Bird Society)
July 19 - Full moon known as Thunder Moon, also Buck and Hay Moon.
July 23 - Neptune occulted (covered) by moon. Start looking after 1 a.m. Optical aid needed.
July 26 - Last-quarter moon
Every Friday - Burke-Gaffney Observatory open houses
June 3 - Mercury above waning crescent moon in dawn east
June 4 - New moon
June 6 - New birders walk in Windsor (Nova Scotia Bird Society). http://www.nsbirdsociety.ca/index.php/events/field-trips
June 9 and 23 - Halifax Planetarium presents The Summer Sky 2016 at 7:15. Registration required. More information at www.astronomynovascotia.ca
June 11 - Jupiter to right of waxing crescent moon in evening west
June 12 - First-quarter moon
June 17 - Mars right of waxing gibbous moon in evening southeast
June 18 - Saturn below waxing gibbous moon in evening southeast
June 19 - Abrahams Lake Bird Walk (Nova Scotia Bird Society). http://www.nsbirdsociety.ca/index.php/events/field-trips
June 20 - Full moon. Known as Strawberry Moon
June 20 - Summer solstice
June 27 - Last-quarter moon
May 6 - New moon (large tides associated with perigee)
May 7 - Waxing crescent moon above star cluster Hyades in evening west
May 14/15 - Jupiter near waxing gibbous moon in late evening southwest
May 17 - First-quarter moon
May 21 - Mars four degrees right of full moon in late evening southeast; Saturn below to the left
May 21 - Full moon, known as Full Flower Moon.
May 29 - Last-quarter moon
May 30 - Mars closest to Earth
April 6 - Venus within a degree of waning crescent moon very low in dawn east.
April 7 - New moon
April 8 - PHOTO OP: Mercury right of slender waxing crescent moon low in evening west
April 9 - Star cluster Pleiades above crescent moon in evening west. Mercury below to the right.
April 9 - RARE EVENT: Highest tides in 18.6 years related to perigean spring tide.
April 10 - Moon occults bright star Aldebaran. Star will be behind moon for most of evening but it emerges low in west at about 9 p.m.
April 14 - First-quarter moon
April 17 - Jupiter 3 degrees left of almost full moon in evening southeast
April 22 - Full moon known as Flower Moon
April 25 - Mars below waning gibbous moon in east after midnight. Saturn below and to the left.
April 26 - Saturn to right of waning gibbous moon after midnight in southeast. Mars right of Saturn.
April 30 - Last-quarter moon
March 1 - Waning gibbous moon east of Mars in dawn south
March 2 - Last-quarter moon above Saturn in dawn south
March 7 - Very thin crescent moon above Venus in dawn east
March 9 - New moon
March 13 - Daylight Savings Time begins at 2 a.m. (clock ahead one hour)
March 15 - First-quarter moon
March 20 - It’s spring! Vernal equinox 1:30 a.m. ADT
March 21 - Jupiter 3 degrees east of waxing gibbous moon in evening east
March 22 - Full moon, known as Worm Moon
March 29 - Waning gibbous moon above Mars and Saturn after midnight in east
March 31 - Last-quarter moon
All five naked eye planets are visible at dawn this month
Feb. 1 - Waning crescent moon above Mars in dawn southwest
Feb. 2 - Waning crescent moon above Saturn to right in dawn south
Feb. 6 - Very thin crescent moon between Venus and Mercury in dawn southeast. Dwarf planet Pluto above Venus (telescope only).
Feb. 8 - New moon
Feb. 15 - First-quarter moon
Feb. 22 - Full moon, known as Snow Moon
Feb. 23 - Jupiter to left of waning gibbous moon in evening east
Dec. 6 - Dec. 7 - Venus 2 degrees* below waning crescent moon in dawn southeast. Gets closer to moon throughout day until occultation (covered) in early afternoon
Dec. 7 - Use binoculars to try and spot Comet Catalina about 4 degrees to the left of Venus in dawn southeast
Dec. 11- New moon
Dec. 13/14 - Geminids meteor shower peak. Lack of moon and reliable shower should make for good show.
Dec. 18 - First-quarter moon
Dec. 25 - Merry Christmas! It’s a full moon (Cold Moon or Long Nights Moon)
Dec. 31 - Jupiter 1.5 degrees below waning gibbous moon in late evening east
Jan. 2 - Last-quarter moon
Nov. 2-3- Venus, much dimmer Mars within a degree of each other in dawn east. Jupiter above.
Nov. 3 - Last-quarter moon
Nov. 6 - Jupiter to left of waning crescent moon in dawn east. Venus, Mars below.
Nov. 7 - Venus to left of waning crescent moon in dawn east. Mars above
Nov. 11 - New moon
Nov. 17-18 - Leonid meteor shower. Not expected to be very active, about 15 meteors an hour
Nov. 19 - First-quarter moon
Nov. 25 - Full moon known as Beaver Moon
Oct. 4 - Last-quarter moon
Oct. 8-10 - Crescent moon moves past Venus and Jupiter in dawn east
Oct. 11 - Extremely thin crescent moon about a degree of Mercury very low in dawn east
Oct. 12 - New moon
Oct. 16 - Jupiter, much dimmer Mars within a degree in dawn southeast. Bright Venus above to the right.
Oct. 20 - First-quarter moon
Oct. 21/22 - Peak of Orionids meteor shower. Expect about 20 meteors per hour at peak but good meteor activity all month.
Oct. 26 - Venus, dimmer Jupiter about 1 degree apart in dawn southeast
Oct. 27 - Full moon, known as Hunter’s, Harvest or Blood moon.
Sept. 5 - Last-quarter moon
Sept. 10/11- Waxing crescent moon moves past Venus (Sept. 10), Mars and Jupiter in dawn east
Sept. 13 - New moon
Sept. 17 - Waxing crescent moon above star with best name ever, Zubenelgenubi. In evening southwest
Sept. 18 - Saturn, the only naked eye visible in the evening, to left of waxing crescent moon in evening southwest
Sept. 21 - First-quarter moon
Sept. 23 - Autumnal equinox begins 5:21 a.m.
Sept. 24 - Mars less than a degree above bright star Regulus in dawn east
Sept. 27 - Full moon - Known as Corn, Harvest and Mating Call (Mi’kmaq) moon
Sept. 27 - LUNAR ECLIPSE. Shading on eastern limb begins to be visible before 10 p.m. Total eclipse, which lasts 72 minutes, begins at 11:11 p.m.
Sept. 28 - Uranus directly above waxing gibbous moon in evening east (binoculars or telescope needed)
Aug. 1-5 - Jupiter to right of star Regulus in dusk west
Aug. 5 - Uranus to left of waning gibbous moon (moonrise 11 p.m.). Binoculars or telescope usually needed to see Uranus.
Aug. 6 - Last-quarter moon
Aug. 6 - Jupiter, fainter Mercury about 1 degree apart in evening west; star Regulus to left
Aug, 8 - Waning crescent moon near Hyades cluster in Taurus and Pleiades after 2 a.m. in east.
Aug. 12 - Mars to left of waning crescent moon in dawn east
Aug. 12/13 - Perseid meteor shower active now but peak of shower 12/13 with excellent moonless conditions.
Aug. 14 - New moon
Aug. 16 - Mercury right of waxing crescent moon very low in west after sunset
Aug. 19 - Star Spica below waxing crescent moon in evening west
Aug. 20 - Mars near Beehive star cluster very low in dawn east
Aug. 22 - First-quarter moon
Aug. 22 - Saturn below moon in evening south
Aug. 29 - Mars above brighter Venus in dawn east
Aug. 29 - Full moon, known as Ripening (Mi’kmaq), Sturgeon and Green Corn.
July 1 - Full moon (first of two this month) Known as Buck (Native American), Feather shedding or Peskewiku (Mi’kmaq)
July 2 - Mercury in good viewing position in dawn northeast
July 2 - Venus and Jupiter moving apart but still close in evening west
July 8 - Last-quarter moon; Uranus (visible in binoculars/ telescope) within a degree to the right
July 14 - Mercury left of crescent moon very low in sunrise east
July 15 - New moon
July 18 - PHOTO OP: Venus a half-degree above crescent moon with Jupiter to the right. Low in evening west
July 24 - First-quarter moon
July 25 - Saturn to left of waxing gibbous moon in evening south
July 30 - Full moon
June 2015 Skylights
June 1 - Saturn rises at 7:43 p.m. (ADT) right of waxing gibbous moon
June 2 - Full Moon - Known as Strawberry Moon, Rose Moon (Europe) or Summer Moon (Nipnikus for Mi’kmaq)
June 9 - Last-quarter moon
June 14/15 - Mercury, very thin crescent moon in dawn east. Star cluster Pleiades above.
June 16 - New moon
June 20 - PHOTO ALERT: Venus, Jupiter and waxing crescent moon in sunset west
June 21 - Summer solstice 1:38 p.m. ADT
June 24 - First-quarter moon
June 27 - Star with best name ever, Zubenelgenubi, just below waxing gibbous moon. (ZOO-ben-el-ja-NOO-bee)
June 28 - Saturn within a degree of the waxing gibbous moon in evening south
June 28 to 30 - RARE EVENT, PHOTO ALERT: Venus, Jupiter move to within a half-degree apart on June 30
May 2015 Skylights
May 1 to 21 - Best appearance of Mercury all year. Well placed in evening twilight west
May 4- Full moon - Frog Croaking moon (Mi’kmaq); also known as Flower or Corn Planting moon
May 4/5 - Saturn near moon in late evening
May 6 - Northern Aquariiid meteor shower peak
May 11 - Last-quarter moon
May 18 - New moon
May 21 - Venus above waxing crescent moon in evening west
May 23 - Jupiter above waxing crescent moon in evening west
May 25 - First-quarter moon
May 29 - Star Spica below waxing gibbous moon all evening
April 2015 Skylights
April 4 - Full moon known as Pink, Fish, Sprouting Grass moon. For the Mi’kmaq, it’s Penatmuiku’s or Egg Laying Moon
April 7 - Star with best name ever, Zubenelgenubi, (zoo-BEN-el-ja-NOO-bee) can be seen right of waning gibbous after midnight in east
April 8 - Saturn to left of waning gibbous moon in dawn southwest
April 11 - Venus to left of tiny star cluster Pleiades in evening west
April 12- Last-quarter moon
April 18 - New moon
April 19 - Mercury to right of very thin crescent moon low in sunset west
April 21 - A pleasing gathering in sunset west: Venus to right of three-day old crescent moon, star Aldebaran just below moon and Pleiades below to right
April 22/23 - Lyrid meteor shower peak. Not a strong shower but has sporadic outbursts and this year there's little moon interference.
April 25 - First-quarter moon
April 26 - Jupiter above waxing gibbous moon high in sunset south
Skylights for February 2015
Feb. 3 - Full moon, known as Snow Moon. Jupiter visible to its left in evening east.
Feb. 12 - Saturn to left of last-quarter moon in dawn south
Feb. 17 - Mercury a few degrees to right of waning crescent moon in dawn east
Feb. 18 - New moon
Feb. 20 - Venus, thin crescent moon within two degrees of each other low in sunset west. Dim Mars just above Venus.
Feb. 21/22 - Venus and Mars close to within a degree of each other in sunset west.
Feb. 25 - First-quarter moon
Skylights for January 2015
Jan. 4 - Full moon, known as Wolf Moon or Snow Moon.
Jan. 7 - Jupiter to east of waning gibbous moon in evening east
Jan. 8 to Jan 12 - Venus and much dimmer Mercury within a degree of each other in evening southwest.
Jan. 13 - Bright star Spica just below last-quarter moon in dawn south-southwest
Jan. 14 - Mercury reaches greatest elongation of the month (farthest from sun). It will be visible throughout the month low in the evening southwest.
Jan. 16 - Saturn within 2 degrees of waning crescent moon in dawn east
Jan. 19 - Comet Lovejoy west of Pleiades star cluster high in evening southwest.
Jan. 20 - New moon
Jan. 21 - Mercury below thin crescent moon and bright Venus to the east in evening southwest.
Jan. 22 - Mars east of waxing crescent moon in evening southwest
Jan. 23/24 (SEE BELOW) - Rare occurrence of three moon shadows on Jupiter (triple shadow transit). Shadows of Io, Callisto and Europa visible on planetary disc through telescope at 2:34 AST
Jan. 27 - First-quarter moon
There’s lots to admire about the planet Jupiter. It’s the largest body in the solar system, besides the sun of course. About 1,321 Earths could fit within its sphere.
A celestial body this size creates a huge gravitational field in space. Its effects reach all the way to our planet, which can be a good thing. Asteroids and comets headed for the Earth can be deflected out of harm’s way.
On the other hand, this immense gravitational slingshot can fling objects toward us. It all depends from what part of the solar system the comet or asteroid originates.
Besides the grandeur of the planet itself, Jupiter’s array of moons is unparalleled in our system. At last count, 67 bodies were known to orbit the planet.
The four largest - Callisto, Io, Europa and Ganymede - are known as the Galilean moons, after the Italian astronomer Galileo, who first documented them using his rudimentary telescope.
Over 400 years later, they remain a favourite target of astronomical observers. In typical backyard telescopes and good quality binoculars, they appear as specks of light lined up on one or both sides of Jupiter. (As seen in this photo recently taken by Halifax astrophotographer Art Cole.)
When the angle of sunlight permits, moon shadows can be seen slowly crossing Jupiter’s disc. You’ll need a telescope that has a lens or mirror at least 90 millimetres in diameter to see these dim, ghostly silhouettes.
Usually only one shadow can be seen at a time but occasionally two are visible. Much more rare is a triple transit, which will occur on the night of Jan. 23/24. The shadows of Io, Callisto and Europa will be visible beginning at 2:34 a.m. AST.
Io’s shadow (far right) will leave the disc about 15 minutes later, according to Starry Night's representation of the event. (Note that the orientation of the shadows and moons in the image below would resemble the view in a reflector telescope. The positions would be different in other types of telescopes such as refractors).
You can find Jupiter high in the south-east in mid-northern latitudes after midnight in January.
If you’ve got a decent scope, bundle up and enjoy the remarkable sight of lunar shadows being cast on a giant planet 778 million kilometres away.
A much smaller member of the solar system is causing a stir in the astronomical community this month. Comet Lovejoy has become much brighter than expected - it's visible in binoculars from urban areas and you might be able to see it with the naked eye under dark country skies. This greenish orb with a faint tail is passing south of the constellation Orion and is climbing toward the constellation Perseus, which it will reach by month's end.
This truly amazing photo mosaic of the comet was taken by astrophotographer Gerald Rhemann in Namibia.
Nov. 22 - New moon
Nov. 24 - thin crescent moon in summer constellation Sagittarius in evening west
Nov. 25 - Saturn and Mercury pair up very low in dawn east
Nov. 28 - Neptune (telescope needed) to east of waxing crescent moon in evening west
Dec. 1 - Uranus (telescope needed) east of waxing gibbous moon all evening
Dec. 5 - Star cluster Pleiades east of waxing gibbous moon all evening
Dec. 9 - Saturn about 3 degrees below thin crescent moon in dawn southeast
Dec. 11 - Jupiter rises about 4 degrees east of waxing gibbous moon in late evening east
Dec. 19 - Saturn below waning crescent moon in dawn southeast
Dec. 24 - Mars east of waxing crescent moon in evening west
Dec. 28 - Uranus 3 degrees east of first-quarter moon all evening
May 3-4 - Jupiter above waxing crescent moon in evening west
May 13-14 - Saturn and waxing gibbous moon grow closer throughout night until closing to within a degree in dawn southwest
May 14 - Mars four degrees from waxng gibbous moon in evening
May 16 -28 (Sky and Telescope) - Mercury’s highest appearance for year in evening west
May 22-24 - A new meteor shower may give a spectacular show - or not.
May 25 - Notable sight: Venus 1.5 degrees from waning crescent moon in dawn east
May 30 - Mercury five degrees from thin crescent moon in low in evening west
March 6 - Star cluster Pleiades above waxing crescent moon in evening
March 7 - Bright star Aldebaran about a degree below waxing crescent moon in evening south
March 8 - First-quarter moon
March 9 - Jupiter 7 degrees east of waxing crescent moon in evening southeast
March 16 - Full moon, known as Worm Moon, as Sap, Crust and Crow moon (Farmer’s Almanac)
March 18 - Mars 3 degrees above and east of waning gibbous moon after 9 p.m. in east Vernal equn
March 20 -Vernal equinox! Spring arrives at 1:57 p.m. ADT
March 23 - Last-quarter moon.
March 27 - Venus 3 degrees below waning crescent moon in dawn southeast
March 28 - Neptune (steady good binoculars or small telescope) four degrees below waning crescent moon in dawn east. Naked eye Mercury below and to the east.
March 29 - Mercury five degrees west of waning crescent moon in dawn east
March 30 - New moon
Feb. 8 - Waxing gibbous moon east of orange-giant star Aldebaran in evening southeast
Feb. 10 - Jupiter east of moon in evening east
Feb. 15 - Full moon known as Snow Moon
Feb. 20 - Mars above waning crescent moon beginning in late evening east
Feb 16 to March 2- Look for zodiacal light about 80 minutes after sunset in west (from February Sky and Telescope). This large, very faint pyramid of light is created by sunlight bouncing off dust particles in the solar system
Feb. 21-22 - Waning gibbous moon near Saturn after midnight
Feb. 26 - Venus and waning crescent moon form a lovely pair in dawn southeast
Feb. 27 - Use binoculars to spot planet Mercury below very thin crescent moon in dawn east
Jan. 1 - New moon
Jan. 2 - Venus below waxing crescent moon in evening southwest
Jan. 7 - First-quarter moon
Jan. 14 - Jupiter to left of waxing gibbous moon in evening east
Jan. 16 - Full moon, known as Wolf Moon
Jan. 23 - Mars above waning gibbous moon after midnight east
Jan. 24 - Last-quarter moon
Jan. 25 - Saturn just 1.5 degrees to left of waning crescent moon in dawn south
Jan. 29 - Venus to right of waning crescent moon in dawn southeast
Jan. 30 - New moon
Jan 31 - Mercury to left of very thin waxing crescent moon
Dec. 2 - New moon
Dec. 5 - Venus below waxing crescent moon in evening southwest
Dec. 9 - First-quarter moon
Dec. 13/14 - Geminids meteor shower. Peaks after midnight with interference from moon in west.
Dec. 17 - Full moon known as Cold Moon or Long Nights Moon. Moon is highest and stays up longest at this time of year
Dec. 19 - Jupiter above to the right of waning gibbous moon in dawn west
Dec. 25 - Mars (rises at 12:30 a.m.) below last quarter moon. Mars will get brighter throughout the winter and spring to equal brightest stars in spring
Dec. 28 - Saturn below and to left of waning crescent moon in dawn east. Bright star Zubenelgenubi (lovely double in telescope) lies between them.
Dec. 28 - Mars within a degree from Virgo star Porrima in dawn south
Nov. 3 - New moon; partial solar eclipse at dawn.
Nov. 6 - Venus below waxing crescent moon in evening southwest
Nov. 10 - First-quarter moon
Nov. 11 - Mercury starts to climb into view in dawn east. Visible into late month
Nov. 15 - The big question mark - Comet ISON may become visible in dawn east
Nov. 17 - Full moon known as Frost Moon or Beaver Moon
Nov. 21 - Jupiter (rises at 9 p.m.) just east of gibbous moon in evening
Nov. 26 - Mercury, Saturn within a degree of each other very low in southeast at dawn
Nov. 27 - Mars 4 degrees above waning crescent moon in dawn southeast
Nov. 29 - Bright star Spica below waning crescent moon in dawn southeast
Dec. 1 - Saturn 1 degree above very thin crescent moon in very low in southeast at dawn
Oct. 2 - Bright star Regulus above waning crescent moon in dawn east.
Oct. 6 - Mercury just to west of very thin crescent moon low in evening southwest. Saturn a few degrees above moon and much brighter Venus to the left.
Oct. 7 - Waxing crescent moon between Venus to the west and much dimmer Saturn to the east. Very low in evening southwest
Oct. 8 - Venus 4 degrees below waxing crescent moon in evening southwest
Oct. 11 - First-quarter moon
Oct. 16 - Venus 1.5 degrees above star Antares very low in southwest
Oct. 18 - Full moon known as Hunters Moon and Dying Grass Moon; penumbral lunar eclipse but not visually detectable, according to SkyNews
Oct. 25 - Jupiter 7 degrees above waning gibbous moon in dawn south
Oct. 26 - Last-quarter moon
Oct. 29 - Mars 6 degrees east of waning crescent moon in dawn southeast
Sept. 5 - New moon
Sept. 8 - RARE EVENT. Venus within a degree east of waxing crescent moon after sunset low in southwest. Bright star Spica below to the west.
Sept. 9 - Saturn a few degrees west of waxing crescent moon after sunset in southwest. Bright Venus below and to the west.
Sept. 12 - First-quarter moon
Sept. 16-20 - Saturn and brighter Venus form close pair in early evening southwest
Sept. 19 - Full moon known as Harvest or Corn moon
Sept. 22 - Autumnal equinox 5:44 p.m.
Sept. 25 - Open star cluster Pleiades above waning gibbous moon late evening and after midnight
Sept. 27 - Last-quarter moon
Sept. 28 - Jupiter above waning crescent moon in dawn southeast
Sept. 30 - Mars just to east of waning crescent moon in dawn southeast
Aug. 4 - Jupiter above waning crescent moon, Mercury below left, in dawn east
Aug. 6 - New moon
Aug. 9 - Venus above waxing crescent moon
Aug. 12 - Saturn above and left of waxing crescent moon
Aug. 12 - Perseids meteor shower peaks before dawn
Aug. 14 - First-quarter moon
Aug. 20 - Full moon, known as Sturgeon or Red moon
Aug. 27-28- Moon passes below star cluster Pleiades
Aug.28 - Last-quarter moon
Aug. 31 - Jupiter rises to left of waning crescent moon at about 2 a.m.
July 6 - Mars 4 degrees above left of waxing crescent moon in dawn east (Jupiter below)
July 8 - New moon
July 10 - Venus 7 degrees above right of waxing crescent moon in evening west
July 15 - First-quarter moon 2 degrees west of star Spica
July 16 - Saturn 3 degrees above waxing gibbous moon in evening south
July 22 - Full moon, known as Buck or Thunder moon
July 21-23 - Jupiter and Mars about 1 degree apart in dawn east
July 29 - Last-quarter moon
The Perseid meteor shower is active from July 13 to Aug 26. It will peak this year on Aug. 11/12 (best past midnight)
The days are heating up as the axial tilt of the Earth takes us toward the summer solstice. Summer officially arrives at 2:04 a.m. on June 21 in Nova Scotia. And we can celebrate in the light of the biggest moon of the year a couple of days later. If you live near the coast, keep an eye out for some big tides as the gravitational pull of our lunar companion makes its presence known.
Three of our other celestial neighbours are closing out their evening show in the west. Jupiter is quickly fading in the sun's glare but Venus and much dimmer Mercury are still doing their celestial dance.
And Saturn has risen into prime viewing territory high in the south. Its rings have "opened" up to spectacular effect for telescopic observers so make sure to track down this celestial wonder.
June 1-4 - Mercury (top), Venus and Jupiter lined up in west after sunset. Jupiter will be lost in sun’s glare after this week.
June 4 - Venus within M35 cluster
June 8 - New moon
June 10 - Crescent moon east of Venus after sunset west. Mercury above Venus.
June 16 - First-quarter moon
June 18-20 - Faint Mercury 2 degrees east of bright Venus after sunset in west-northwest.
June 19 - Saturn above waxing gibbous moon in evening south.
June 21 - Summer solstice 2:04 a.m.
June 23 - Full moon, known as Strawberry Moon. Largest of 2013
June 30 - First-quarter moon
Mars and then Jupiter rise before sunrise at end of month
Mark your calendars for a planetary party late this month.
The two brightest planets, Venus and Jupiter respectively, will celebrate spring in style with the much fainter Mercury. Beginning May 24 low in the west after sunset. the trio will begin to form a celestial triangle. The conjunction will culminate on May 26 when you'll see a neat isosceles group with each planet separated by only about two degrees.
This is all an optical illusion, of course. The planets are nowhere near each other in space but from our vantage point on Earth, it's a fascinating lesson in perspective.
Look on the other side of the evening sky for a sign that summer is definitely around the corner. The beautiful blue star Vega, a member of the Summer Triangle of Vega, Altair and Deneb, has risen in the northeast by early May.
Skylights May 2013
May 9 - New moon
May 10/11 - Thin crescent moon pairs up with bright Venus. Binoculars will help on May 10, when an extremely thin crescent will be visible below Venus.
May 12 - Jupiter 3 degrees west of waxing crescent moon in evening west
May 18 - First-quarter moon
\May 22 - Saturn 5 degrees east of waxing gibbous moon in evening east
May 25 - Full moon known as Flower Moon
May 24 to 27 - RARE EVENT. Mercury, Jupiter and Venus form tight group in evening west. Closest conjunction on May 26 when, clockwise from left, Jupiter, Mercury and Venus. forms neat isosceles triangle.
June 1- Lineup of planets, from top, Mercury, Venus and Jupiter in evening northwest
The glittering winter constellations of Orion and Canis Major are sinking in the west as March gives way to April. The planet Jupiter also has brightened the bitter winter nights of 2013. It's still prominent high in the southwest in the evening in the early weeks of April. But by month's end, this second-brightest planet (after Venus) will be visible for only a couple of hours after sunset in Nova Scotia.
As the curtain closes on Jupiter, it's rising on Saturn. By early April, the ringed planet can be seen low in the east at about 10 p.m. and will rise about four minutes earlier on successive nights By month's end, Saturn will rise at about 7:45 p.m. If you own a telescope, big or small, this mysterious planet is a must-see. A lot of celestial objects disappoint novice observers - not so with Saturn, unless you're expecting to see the resplendent detail of a Hubble portrait. Bigger scopes can tease out the details of the main divisions of the rings but regardless, the eerie sight of this celestial sombrero floating in your eyepiece isn't to be missed.
If you're interested in celestial sights much farther afield, and are blessed with optics that can take you there, April is a fertile month. Fields and fields of galaxies bloom in the Leo-Virgo region known as the Virgo Cluster. Check out my post Lost Among the Galaxies for my explorations of this fascinating collection of "star cities," to use astronomer Terence Dickinson's term.
Highlights of the April 2013 night sky:
April 3- Last-quarter moon
April 10 - New moon
April 13 - Crescent moon near star cluster Pleaides
April 14 - Jupiter 2 degrees east of crescent moon in evening west
April 18 - First-quarter moon
April 25 - Full moon, known as Pink Moon or Sprouting Grass moon
April 25 - Saturn three degrees east of full moon in evening east
April 26 - Saturn four degrees above just-past full moon after midnight southeast
May 2 - Last-quarter moon
A small and faint comet has added a little brightness to the western evening sky in recent weeks. Comet Pan-STARRS has been spot by many observers in Nova Scotia and across eastern North America. It was thought this comet, which was making its first appearance in a journey from the Oort Cloud, may have brightened into a spectacular object. But Pan-STARRS kept a low profile, even though many photographers captured some lovely portraits, including this one by Canadian astrophotogpher Alan Dyer.
My own contribution to the record is infinitely more modest. I wasn't able to spot the comet visually but one of the photos I snapped did capture the comet. Look hard in the top right corner.
Other highlights of the March 2013 night sky:
March 2 - Saturn left of waning gibbous moon after midnight in east
March 4 - Last-quarter moon
March 10 - Planet Mercury very low in east sunrise below thin waning crescent moon. Mercury edges higher in sky throughout month
March 11 - New moon
March 12-14- Comet Pan-STARRS may be naked-eye sight near crescent moon in evening west
March 17 - Jupiter two degrees above waxing crescent moon in evening southwest
March 19 - First-quarter moon
March 20 - Vernal equinox, 8:02 a.m.
March 30 - Jupiter five degrees above waning gibbous moon
March 26 - Full moon, known as Worm Moon or Spawning Moon (Mi’kmaq