Skywatchers in Western Europe and the UK should look low to the south-southwest at nautical dusk on 3 and 5 October 2019 to view the waxing Moon pass close to Jupiter and Saturn, the Solar System’s largest gas giant planets. Observers at northern temperate latitudes should make the most of any opportunities to view these planets before they are lost in twilight.
If you have never seen the International Space Station (ISS), make the most of clear skies over the next few nights. It’s capable of exceeding Venus at its brightest and visible for up to 7 minutes as it crawls across the sky in an arc from west to east. Find out when and where to see some favourable passes of this 420-tonne, 109-metre-wide spacecraft over the British Isles and Western Europe.
At around magnitude +9, C/201 W2 (Africano) is the brightest comet currently on show, passing closest to Earth on 27 September slightly less than half an astronomical unit away. Speeding through the constellations of Pegasus, Pisces and Aquarius, Comet Africano also lies within a binocular field of view of outermost planet Neptune on the night of 3–4 October.
Neptune reaches opposition on 10 September 2019 having returned to Aquarius, the constellation in which it was discovered in 1846. We show you how to locate the outermost planet using binoculars, a task made easier this month due to Neptune’s close passage to naked-eye star phi (φ) Aquarii on 6 September.
Depending on where you live in the British Isles, you may be fortunate to view a lunar occultation of naked-eye double star delta (δ) Geminorum at dawn on Tuesday, 27 August 2019. Observers fortunate enough to lie on the so-called graze line will see the star appear to flicker on and off as the mountains and valleys of the northern lunar polar regions drift by.
Have you ever seen the Moon hide a star? If you’re an early riser in the UK with a small telescope on Saturday, 24 August 2019 then you can potentially witness the disappearance and reappearance of three naked-eye stars in the Hyades open star cluster of Taurus between 3:40am BST and shortly after sunrise.
It’s the time of year when Northern Hemisphere skywatchers turn their attention to the Perseids, the favourite meteor shower of many an observer. The peak of the Perseids is predicted for moonset on 13 August 2019, bringing dark skies to watch these bright, fast shooting stars — the more explosive examples leaving persistent trails in the sky.
Jupiter is two months past opposition on 10 August, so you need to be looking low in the southern sky of the British Isles around sunset if you wish to catch the solar system’s largest planet at its best. If you time it right and the weather obliges, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot makes multiple appearances while the planet’s Galilean moons play hide and seek. Welcome to our August 2019 Jovian observing guide.
Observers in the British Isles can rejoice that summer astronomical twilight all night is drawing to a close. But if Jupiter and Saturn are currently too low to view, you’re blighted by light pollution, or moonlight robs you of nebulae, why not seek out some of the many beautiful double and multiple stars on show?