Observing

See the morning planet show and Mercury at its best

In the small hours of Friday, 16 October, innermost planet Mercury reaches its greatest westerly elongation from the Sun. For those of you in the UK with a flat, unobscured eastern horizon and willing to get up an hour before sunrise, the next few days provide your best opportunity to see Mercury from the Northern Hemisphere during 2015.

Observing

Get ready for October’s pre-dawn Moon and planet show

Now that planet Saturn is effectively lost in the dusk twilight for UK-based observers, you may be wondering what has happened to the other four bright naked-eye planets. Far from disappearing, they have just transferred to the morning sky. From 8—11 October, the waning crescent Moon acts as a guide to Venus, Mars, Jupiter then Mercury in the eastern dawn sky.

Observing

See the Moon & Venus get close in the pre-dawn sky

As dawn creeps across Western Europe on the morning of Thursday, 10 September, a close conjunction of the two brightest objects in the nighttime sky is taking place low in the east an hour before sunrise. So, set your alarm for 5:30am in the UK to see a beautiful juxtaposition of a 26-day-old waning crescent Moon and dazzling planet Venus in the twilight.

Observing

See outermost planet Neptune at its best

When Pluto was reclassified as a dwarf planet in 2006, Neptune regained the title of the solar system’s outermost planet. Since this fascinating gas giant reached opposition on 1 September in the constellation Aquarius, now is a great time to seek it out. We show you how to locate Neptune with binoculars and small telescopes.

Observing

See the Moon meet Saturn and a star disappear on 22 August

As dusk fades to dark on Saturday, 22 August, observers in the British Isles and Western Europe with clear skies can see the first quarter Moon close above planet Saturn low to the southwest. But for those skywatchers with binoculars and small telescopes, an additional treat is in store as the Moon passes in front of (occults) a naked-eye star.