....Oakland, California - Stargazing since 1924

What's Up


Bright Planet Notes for 2014:

Major Events (times listed are local to central California):

Apr 15, 2014 - Total lunar eclipse (date is now passed).
Oct 8, 2014 - Total lunar eclipse, penumbral phase (barely visible) beginning 01:16am, totality from 03:23-04:24, ends at 06:32.
Oct 23, 2014 - Partial solar eclipse, visible begins 1:55pm, max at 3:11pm, ends at 4:31pm.

Mercury: Best chances for viewing Mercury occur roughly about a week before and after the following dates and times (AS=After Sunset, PD=Pre-Dawn). 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:

Feb 1/AS
Mar 12/PD
May 26/AS
Jul 11/PD

Sep 18/AS
Nov 1/PD
Jan 10/AS (close conjunction w/Venus)

Venus: Visible low in the west for the first few days of January, but moves into the Sun by 1/5. Pops out in the mornings before sunrise around 1/23 and rises higher, earlier through to mid-June, but, of course, the days get longer, so it gets lost to daylight earlier, as well. It will stay visible in the pre-dawn hours all the way through mid-August, before diving back into the Sun. It won't reappear until early January of 2015 after sunset in the west.

Mars: At the beginning of January, Mars becomes visible low in the east around 2am (Virgo). By mid-April, it starts to become visible in the early evening hours until it's lost to the Sun by late September. It won't be visible again until the pre-dawn hours of Jan 2016.

Jupiter: Starts the year high in the east in the early evening (Gemini) and remains visible through mid-May before it's lost to the Sun in the west. It will return again in the early evenings of February 2015.

Saturn: Begins appearing in the easterly pre-dawn hours of January (Libra). It eventually moves to early evening viewing times by early June, before being lost to the Sun by early September.

Uranus: Starts the year high in the southwest (Pisces) in the early evening but becomes fairly unviewable by early February. Begins to be viewable again at 3am in early July, and viewable in the early evening by early October.

Neptune: Starts the year by getting too close to the Sun to view. Becomes visible again at 3am in the east around early June (Aquarius), and rises earlier passing into the early evening of October.

New Moons for 2014: Jan 1 & 30, Feb (none), Mar 1 & 30, Apr 28, May 28, Jun 27, Jul 26, Aug 25, Sep 23, Oct 23, Nov 22, Dec 21.

Meteor showers for 2014 (green text is good)

Morning of Max Name ZHR Radiant & Direction Lunar
Jan 3-4 Quadrantids 40 Bootes low
Apr 21-22 Lyrids 20 Lyra (E) high
May 5-6 Eta Aquarids 60 Aquarius (E) low
Jun 14-16 Lyrids 10 Lyra (E) high
Jul 28-29 Delta Aquarids 20 Aquarius (S) low
Jul 29-30 Capricornids 15 Capricornus (E) low
Aug 12-13 Perseids 60 Perseid (NE) high
Oct 8-9 Draconids 10 Draco (NE) high
Oct 21-22 Orionids 20 Orion (SE) low
Nov 5-12 Taurids 10 Taurus high
Nov 17-18 Leonids 15 Leo (E) low
Dec 13-14 Geminids 120 Gemini (S) medium

Seven 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 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.

Lunar Conjunctions of 2014

(EE=Early Evening, PM=Past-Midnight, PD=Pre-Dawn)
(N=north, NNE=north-northeast, etc.)

(Date - Description, Approx View Time, Compass Direction)

Jan 14 - Near full Moon w/Jupiter, EE, E
Jan 23 - Waning crescent w/Mars and Spica PD, S
Jan 25 - Waning cresecent w/Saturn PD, SSE
Jan 28 - Waning thin crescent w/Venus PD, ESE
Feb 10 - Waxing gibbous w/Jupiter, EE, ESE
Feb 19 - Waning gibbous w/Mars and Spica, PM, SE
Feb 21 - Waning gibbous w/Saturn, PD, SE
Feb 25 - Waning crescent w/Venus, PD, ESE
Feb 27 - Waning crescent w/Mercury, PD, ESE
Mar 7 - Waxing crescent w/Aldeberran, EE, W
Mar 9 - Waxing gibbous w/Jupiter, EE, W
Mar 18 - Waning gibbous w/Mars and Spica, EE, ESE
Mar 21 - Waning gibbous w/Saturn, PM, SE
Mar 27 - Waning crescent w/Venus, PD, ESE

Interesting Misc Conjunctions of 2014

Aug 18 - Venus and Jupiter
(More to come!).

Clear 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.

Direct link for the weekend viewing prospects at Chabot Observatory (usually posted around 6pm on Friday and Saturday evening).





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