Planet Notes for 2017:
Major Astronomical Events
(Times listed are local to Oakland, California)
(Meteor showers shown in separate table, below)
("Opposition" means the planet
is at its closest approach to Earth in its orbit - this makes
it the biggest and brightest to be seen for the year)
(Fairly rare events are in bold and blue)
Jan 27, 11:16pm - Waning gibbous
Moon in conjunction with Jupiter.
August 21, 8:04am to 10:34am
- Partial eclipse of the Sun as viewed from SF Bay Area; 9:14am
greatest coverage. Find out where to view total eclipse
visible from North America here.
Sep 12, 3:28am - Lunar occultation of Aldebaran, Taurus; reappears
Nov 14, 6:15am - Close conjunction of Venus and Jupiter, just
above the eastern horizon.
Dec 3 - Supermoon
Mercury: Best chances for viewing Mercury occur roughly
a few days before and after the following dates and times. Note
that Mercury is always close to the Sun, and whenever it is visible,
it will be low to the eastern or western horizon, just before
sunrise (in the east), or just after sunset (in the west), respectively.
Use a pair of binoculars to aid your attempts, and as always -
DO NOT LOOK AT THE SUN! (AS=After Sunset, PD=Pre-Dawn)
Venus: Similar to Mercury in that it is also
always close to the Sun, but can stay visible much longer, and
is much brighter. In fact, Venus is so bright, if it is at least
approximately 20-30 degrees (about the twice or thrice the width
of your fist) away from the Sun, it should be able to be seen
with a telescope even during broad daylight. DO NOT try this unless
you know EXACTLY what you are doing! Accidentally looking at the
Sun through a telescope can result in permanent eye damage.
Be sure to consult with someone skilled and experienced in doing
this before attempting it, yourself. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
Venus will be best seen in the western
skies of evening from January through to mid-March 2017 before
it is lost to the Sun. Reappears mid-April in the eastern pre-dawn
skies and is eventually lost to the Sun again by October; won't
be seen again until the early evening western skies in mid-May
Jan 31/AS Conjunction w/Moon and
Apr 23/PD Conjunction w/Moon
May 22/PD Conjunction w/Moon
Jun 20/PD Conjunction w/Moon
Jul 20/PD Conjunction w/Moon
Aug 18/PD Conjunction w/Moon
Sep 17 /PD Conjunction w/Moon
At the beginning of January, Mars is visible low in the west during
the early evening hours, moving too close to the Sun by around
mid-March to be worth viewing; won't be visible again until mid-November,
low in the east.
Starts the year fairly low in the ESE during the wee hours of
the morning, but rises earlier and earlier so that by mid-April,
it's easily visible in the east during early evening, and will
stay visible until mid-July before being lost to the Sun in the
west. Starts to become visible again in the pre-dawn hours late
in December, and has a very close conjunction with Mars on Jan
Jan 19/PD Conjunction w//waning half
Feb 15/PD Conjunction w//waning gibbous Moon
Mar 14/PD Conjunction w/waning gibbous Moon
Apr 7 Jupiter at opposition
Apr 10 Conjunction w/full Moon
May 7 Conjunction w/waxing gibbous Moon
Jun 3 Conjunction w/waxing gibbous Moon
Jun 30 Conjunction w/waxing half Moon
Jul 28 Conjunction w/waxing crescent Moon
Jan 6, 2018 Close conjunction w/Mars
Begins appearing low in the easterly pre-dawn hours of mid-February.
It slowly moves higher in the sky, further west, and earlier in
the evening, until it becomes visible in the late evening hours
of early June, reaches opposition on June 15th, and then become
more easily visible earlier in the evening by mid-July. It will
stay viewable until late September, when it will eventually be
lost to the western horizon. It won't become visible again until
the pre-dawn hours of early April 2018.
Uranus: Starts the year high
up in the early evening but becomes fairly unviewable by mid-February.
Begins to be viewable again in the wee hours of early August,
and will be viewable in the early evening by mid-November.
Won't begin to be visible until the wee hours of mid-June, rising
earlier and earlier until it becomes visible in the early evenings
of late-September. Should be viewable through mid-December before
being lost to the western skies.
Moons for 2017: Jan 27, Feb 26, Mar 27, Apr 26, May 25,
Jun 23, Jul 23, Aug 21, Sep 19, Oct 19, Nov 18, Dec 17.
showers for 2017 (green text is good)
|Morning of Max
||Radiant & Direction
Ten of this year's showers (green
text) are favorably absent most or all of the Moon, and
offer the best viewing opportunities. Note that the best time
to view meteor showers is usually between 2am and astronomical
dawn. Also, the showers themselves generally occur for days before
and after their peaks, and can still be worth watching, off-peak.
The lunar phase calendar (above) was created
with a very cool program called Quick Phase, which generates all
kinds of info on the phases of the moon. If you're interested
in getting it yourself, click here.
*transit - to cross from the eastern
half of the sky to the western half, or vice-versa. When an object
transits in an east-to-west direction, it's at its highest elevation
above the horizon. This is the best time to view any object, because
the higher it is in the sky, the fewer layers of Earth's atmosphere
will interfere with, and distort, the image.
For more info about What's Up this
month, check out Sky
& Telescope's web page.
Sky Clock for Chabot Space & Science Center This
handy utility predicts what the skies are likely to be like within
the next two days. It may take a minute to figure out, but after
that, it's quite simple, and very useful.
link for the weekend
viewing prospects at Chabot Observatory (usually posted
around 6pm on Friday and Saturday evening).