Category Archives: Whats Up

All the Whats Up in the Nights Sky events

Whats Up in the Nights Sky March 13th 2015

You know the season is shifting. As the stars come out, the Big Dipper standing on its handle in the northeast is now as high as Cassiopeia standing on end in the northwest. The Dipper is rising into spring and summer, and Cas is descending from its high showing in fall and winter.

Whats Up in the Nights Sky March 11th 2015

The eclipsing variable star Algol should be at minimum brightness, magnitude 3.4 instead of its usual 2.1, for a couple hours tonight centered on midnight EDT; 9 p.m. PDT. Algol takes several additional hours to fade and to re-brighten.

Before and during dawn Thursday morning the 12th, the waning Moon poses near Saturn, as shown here. Look for Antares below them.

Whats Up in the Nights Sky March 10th 2015

Jupiter this month forms a big, more-or-less equilateral triangle with Procyon and Pollux. Face southeast soon after dark, and Procyon is to Jupiter’s right. Pollux is high above them.

Procyon is also part of the slightly larger Winter Triangle just to the west, also equilateral. Its other stars are orange Betelgeuse and bright Sirius below.

Whats Up in the Nights Sky March 9th 2015

Ganymede, Jupiter’s biggest moon, enters onto Jupiter’s face at 10:10 p.m. EDT and exits at 1:47 a.m. EDT. Its black shadow trails almost three hours behind, crossing Jupiter from 1:05 to 4:43 a.m. EDT. (Subtract 3 hours to get Pacific times; this event is more convenient for the West Coast.)

Whats Up in the Nights Sky March 5th

Full Moon (exact at 1:05 p.m. Eastern Standard Time). This evening the Moon shines below the dim hind feet of Leo.

And another! Io partially eclipses Ganymede with its shadow from 1:35 to 1:46 a.m. Friday morning EST. Ganymede will dim by a full 1.0 magnitude at mid-eclipse. They’re both to Jupiter’s west – with Callisto in the background between them! Callisto is normally 1.1 magnitude fainter than Ganymede (which is the one appearing closest to Jupiter). But at mid-eclipse Ganymede will look almost identical to Callisto, with Io clearly outshining them both.

Whats Up in the Nights Sky March 4th

A challenge for North Americans as twilight turns into night: Distant Uranus, magnitude +5.9, glimmers just below Venus, which is 8,000 times brighter at magnitude –3.9. Use good binoculars or a telescope. At the time of nightfall on the East Coast, Uranus is 0.3° below Venus. By nightfall on the West Coast it’s 0.5° below. Nothing else of that brightness is that close under Venus.