Category Archives: sky watching

Venus Flirts with Mercury

Well, we missed this because of the “winter storm.” Anyway, they will still be very close for a few days.

From Sky and Telescope:

Saturday, January 10

Venus and Mercury are closest together this evening in twilight, 0.7° apart. Look low in the southwest about 45 minutes after sunset, as shown here. They’ll stay within 1° of each other through Monday.


– See more at:

Wanna See a Comet?

Comet Lovejoy is bright enough to see with your eyes alone. It’s a beautiful blue-green. You probably get the best view with binoculars but if you don’t have binoculars, use averted vision. That is, don’t look right at it but use your peripheral vision just off-center from where you are looking. Look high in the south before the waning moon rises. Here is a chart showing where to look on specific days in January.


Moongazers Meet Planetgazers on Saturday and Monday

Publisher’s Note: My moniker on the Internet is planetgazer for reasons that should be obvious to my readers by now but I could have just as easily chosen moongazer. Well, moongazer, if you’re out there, I’ll be with you in spirit this week.

From “This Week’s Sky-at-a-Glance” at

Saturday, July 5

First-quarter Moon. The half-lit Moon is quite close to Mars as seen from North America. The Moon occults (hides) Mars during daylight for Hawaii and at dusk or night in parts of Latin America.


Monday, July 7

Now the waxing gibbous Moon shines closely under Saturn in the evening (for North America), as shown at right. For southern South America, the Moon occults Saturn.


Don’t Miss the Blood Moon on Monday Night!

If the weather forecast holds, Monday night will be clear and cold. Perfect conditions for observing a total eclipse of the moon, although it might be a bit gusty . . . again.

During a total lunar eclipse, only long-wave red light from the Sun leaks around planet Earth, filtered by our atmosphere, giving the moon a ruddy appearance, hence the name “Blood Moon.”

Astronomers, astrologers, and biblical scholars are beside themselves with anticipation because there will be four Blood Moons in 2014/2015. Combine that with the Grand Cardinal Cross of Jupiter, Pluto, Uranus and Mars. and the fact that the Blood Moons fall on religiously significant days . . . not to mention the first one falling on Tax Day, an evil omen to be sure . . . and you have the stage set for some serious drama.


Major events in human history are often accompanied by signs in the heavens. Let’s hope that this time around the signs point to your favorite vacation destination, spiritually speaking, and not to TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It).

Personally speaking, I have faith that mankind — with a little help from above — will find a way out of the morass of social, economic, and political crises that threaten to give the world a series of collective bad hair days. So unless you have to  get up at the crack of dawn, stay up for this spectacle of nature.

While you’re at it, look high in the southern sky to see a fiery Mars, which is at one of its closest approaches to Earth in many years. Look down and to the left to see golden Saturn. Look way to the west to see a dazzling Jupiter. The universe is a great place to live!

In our time zone, the total eclipse begins at 2:07 AM on Tuesday (Monday night) but the moon enters the Earth’s penumbra shortly after midnight. Get more information on the lunar eclipse by clicking here: April’s Total Eclipse of the Moon

It’s a Good Night for Stargazing – Catch it Early!

See Venus dance with the Moon and Antares, followed by the International Space Station!

From This Week’s Sky at a Glance from Sky and Telescope Magazine:


Monday, October 7: During twilight, the waxing crescent Moon shines to the right of Venus. Well to the Moon’s lower right, while twilight is still fairly bright, binoculars show Saturn above Mercury. [Publisher’s Note: Austin smog will make seeing Saturn and Mercury almost impossible.]

Tuesday, October 8: The Moon shines above Venus in twilight. Depending on where you are in North America, the Moon, Venus, and fainter Antares form a nearly equilateral triangle, as shown at right.

You can also see the International Space Station fly over beginning at 8:13 PM tonight! This is from NASA’s free text alert system called “Spot the Station“:

(SpotTheStation) Time: Mon Oct 07 8:13 PM, Visible: 5 min, Max Height: 72 degrees, Appears: SW, Disappears: NE

Translation: Look to the southwest at exactly 8:13 PM. It will appear low in the sky at first. Austin lights will interfere for a bit but be patient. It will rise silently as it heads in a northeasterly direction until it reaches a maximum elevation of 72 degrees (straight overhead would be 90 degrees). It will be visible for about 5 minutes and when it fades, it will fade fast. This is because it will pass into the shadow of the Earth (sunset for the ISS).

By the way, here is a list of the brightest objects in the sky, in order:

  1. The Sun
  2. The Moon
  3. Venus
  4. The International Space Station
  5. Jupiter

Of course, supernovae, comets, meteors, and exploding asteroids can rival the Sun and the Moon but only temporarily.