Posts Tagged ‘Mercury superior conjunction’

02/24/2016 – Ephemeris – The planets are all hanging out in the morning for another 2 weeks

February 24, 2016 Comments off

Ephemeris for Wednesday, February 24th.  The Sun will rise at 7:29.  It’ll be up for 10 hours and 53 minutes, setting at 6:23.   The Moon, 2 days past full, will rise at 8:31 this evening.

Let’s check out the whereabouts of the bright naked eye planets.  All the classical planets visible from antiquity are officially now in the morning sky.  Though Mercury is too close to the Sun to be spotted.  Jupiter will rise at 7:25 p.m., in the east.  Jupiter is still a morning planet since it’s not up at sunset.  It’s among the stars of Leo.  Mars will rise next at 1:12 a.m. in the east-southeast.  It’s seen against the stars of Libra now.  Saturn will rise at 2:49 a.m. in the east-southeast.  It’s above the stars of Scorpius, actually in Ophiuchus.  Venus will rise at 6:27 a.m. again in the east-southeast.  Comet Catalina is up all night and is a telescopic object and fading fast.  At 10 p.m. is above the constellation of Cassiopeia and right of Perseus.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.


Jupiter and the Moon

Jupiter, the Moon in the official constellation boundaries as set up by the International Astronomical Union at 10 p.m. February 24, 2016. Created using Stellarium.

Telescopic Jupiter

Jupiter and its moons as they would be seen in a telescope, at 10 p.m. February 24, 2016. Jupiter has an apparent diameter of 44.2″ Created using Stellarium.

Moon in binoculars

The Moon as it might be seen in binoculars at 10 p.m. February 24, 2016. Created using Stellarium.

Morning planets

The morning planets with constellation boundaries at 7 a.m. February 25, 2016. Created using Stellarium.

Telescopic Mars

Mars in a telescope at high power. It’s apparent diameter is 8.4″. At 7 a.m. February 25, 2016. Created using Stellarium.

Telescopic Saturn

Saturn and its large satellite Titan and other moons as they should appear in a telescope in the morning of February 25, 2016. The planet is 16.4″ in diameter while the rings span 38.2″. Created using Stellarium.

The telescopic planet images are not to the same scale.  Use the diameters in seconds of arc (“) as a way to compare the sizes.

Comet Catalina has become too faint to be seen in binoculars as it heads out of the solar system.  To follow the comet further go to Seiichi Yashida’s Weekly Bright Comets page. Comet Catalina is n longer the brightest comet on the list, and is currently listed second.  Click on it [C/2013 US10 ( Catalina )] for finder charts and other information.

Planets in the morning and the evening

This is a chart showing the sunrise and sunset skies for February 24, 2016 showing the location of the planets and the Moon at that time. Created using my LookingUp program.

Some of these images above are shown smaller than actual size.  Image expansion lately hasn’t worked.  If you are using Firefox, right-click on the image, and then click on View Image.

07/02/2015 -Ephemeris – A belated preview of July’s skies

July 2, 2015 1 comment

Ephemeris for Thursday, July 2nd.  Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 30 minutes, setting at 9:31.   The Moon, 1 day past full, will rise at 9:48 this evening and tomorrow the Sun will rise at 6:02.

Lets preview July’s skies a day late.  Sorry, it’s been a busy week.. The sun, having reached its northern solstice, is beginning to slide southward again, at first imperceptibly, then with greater speed.  The daylight hours will decrease from 15 hours and 30 minutes Today to 14 hours 44 minutes at month’s end.  The daylight hours will be slightly shorter south of Interlochen, and slightly longer to the north.  The altitude of the sun at local noon, when the sun is due south will decrease from 68 degrees Now to 63 degrees at month’s end.  The sun will be a degree lower in the Straits area.  Despite the warmth, the earth will reach its greatest distance from the sun on Monday the 6th.  The range of the earth’s distance from the sun is 3 million out of 93 million miles.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.


July Star Chart

Star Chart for July 2015. Created using my LookingUp program.  Click on image to enlarge.

The Moon is not plotted.

The planets and stars are plotted for the 15th at 11 p.m. EDT.  That is chart time.  Note, Traverse City is located 1 hour 45 minutes behind our time meridian.  To duplicate the star positions on a planisphere you may have to set it to 1 hour 45 minutes earlier than the current time.

Evening Astronomical twilight ends at midnight. EDT on July 1st, decreasing to 11:14 p.m. EDT on the 31st.

Morning astronomical twilight starts at 3:32 a.m. EDT on July 1st, and increasing to 4:42 a.m. EDT on the 31st.

Add a half hour to the chart time every week before the 15th and subtract and hour for every week after the 15th.

For a list of constellation names to go with the abbreviations click here.

The green pointer from the Big Dipper is:

  • Pointer stars at the front of the bowl of the Big Dipper point to Polaris the North Star.
  • Drill a hole in the bowl of the Big Dipper and the water will drip on the back of Leo the Lion.
  • Follow the arc of the Big Dipper’s handle to Arcturus
    • Continue with a spike to Spica
  • The Summer Triangle is shown in red

Calendar of Planetary Events

Credit:  Sky Events Calendar by Fred Espenak and Sumit Dutta (NASA’s GSFC)

To generate your own calendar go to

Times are Eastern Daylight Time on a 24 hour clock.  Some additions made to aid clarity.

Conjunctions like the Moon-Jupiter: 4.5° N means Jupiter will appear 4.5° north of the Moon.

 Date       Local   Event
Jul  01     We    02:48    Moon South Dec.: 18.4° S
     01     We        Venus: 42.4° E
     01     We    22:20    Full Moon
     05     Su    14:54    Moon Perigee: 367100 km
     06     Mo    08:59    Aphelion: 1.0167 AU
     07     Tu    20:07    Moon Descending Node
     08     We    16:24    Last Quarter
     12     Su    13:55    Moon-Aldebaran: 0.9° S
     14     Tu    00:24    Moon North Dec.: 18.4° N
     14     Tu    17:35    Venus-Regulus: 2.3° S
     15     We    21:24    New Moon
     18     Sa    13:34    Moon-Jupiter: 4.5° N
     18     Sa    21:06    Moon-Venus: 0.5° N
     21     Tu    07:02    Moon Apogee: 404800 km
     21     Tu    15:32    Moon Ascending Node
     23     Th    15:18    Mercury Superior Conjunction with the Sun
     24     Fr    00:04    First Quarter
     26     Su    04:43    Moon-Saturn: 2.4° S
     28     Tu    10:23    Delta Aquarid Meteor Shower: ZHR* = 20
     28     Tu    13:34    Moon South Dec.: 18.3° S
     31     Fr    06:43    Full Moon
Aug  01     Sa        Venus: 21.5° E

*ZHR – Zenithal Hourly Rate:  Approximate number of meteors per hour when the shower radiant is at the zenith.  For more information on this and other meteor showers in 2015 see the International Meteor Organization website calendar section: