While antipodean observers are enjoying views of the totally eclipsed Blue Moon in Cancer the Crab on the night of 31 January/1 February, Northern Hemisphere observers should look out for magnitude +6.9 1 Ceres at opposition in the northern fringes of the same constellation. The dwarf planet puts on a good show in the dark of the Moon during February.
Ceres, the largest minor planet inside the orbit of Neptune, passed closest to Earth on the evening of 22 October — the night of the last quarter Moon. With the lunar crescent now confined to the morning sky, grab your binoculars or telescope, print out some star charts from our online guide and track down the brightest of the dwarf planets while at its best.
Five bodies in our Solar System are known to bear rings — Saturn, and to a lesser extent, rings of gas and dust also encircle Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune; then Chariklo was added this haloed group last year, one of a class of minor planets called centaurs — now the progenitor of the centaurs, Chiron, most likely has rings too.