On the morning of Thursday, 7 January, observers in the UK with a clear sky and an unobstructed view low to the southeast at 7am GMT (central British Isles) can see a close conjunction between the old crescent Moon, Venus and Saturn — all three encompassed by the field of view of a typical binocular.
Dominating this image is the so-called Prawn Nebula, part of the gigantic nebula Gum 56, some 6,000 light-years away in Scorpius. For millions of years stars have been born out of the nebula’s gas, material which is later returned to the stellar nursery when the aging stars either expel their material gently into space, or eject it more dramatically in supernova explosions.
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.