Star Watch

Star Watch for January through May, 2019

The WCSU Planetarium and Observatory facility is CLOSED for the winter season but will hold its first Public Night of the 2019 spring season on Sat., March 23. See the schedule below.

Public Nights may be cancelled due to icy road conditions or severe storm watches or warnings. For updates, check the NOAA weather web site (www.weather.gov) on the day of an event. An update may also be issued on the observatory number, (203) 837 – 8672  . Sky viewing cannot be held during cloudy or precipitating weather, but a planetarium show may still be held as long as conditions are not severe.

Planetarium shows are appropriate for adults and older children, but generally not for infants or toddlers.

The Observatory and Planetarium facility lies atop the hill between the Westside Campus Center and the Pinney Hall dormitory; the entrance road faces the front of Pinney Hall. The road’s entrance apron is steep; come into it from an angle to avoid bottoming out. Parking is available but very limited around the facility; more may be found on University Boulevard.

SPRING, 2019 PUBLIC NIGHT SCHEDULE

Date of Public Night Planetarium Show Time Observing (if clear) Objects visible
Sat., March 23 7 – 8 p.m. EDT 8 – 10 p.m. EDT Mars, Pleiades, Orion Nebula, waning gibbous Moon
Sat., April 13 7 – 8 p.m. EDT 8 – 10 p.m. EDT Castor, Moon 1 day past 1st Quarter, Algieba
Sat., April 27 8 – 9 p.m. EDT 9 – 11 p.m. EDT Algieba, carbon star Y CVn, Mizar and Alcor, M44 star cluster
Sat., May 11 8 – 9 p.m. EDT 9 – 11 p.m. EDT 1st Quarter Moon, Mizar and Alcor, carbon star Y CVn, M13 star cluster, Epsilon Lyrae, Ring Nebula
Sat., May 18 8 – 9 p.m. EDT 9 – 11 p.m. EDT Mizar and Alcor, Full Moon, carbon star Y CVn, Epsilon Lyrae

 

NIGHTLY SKY CALENDAR                                                                                                                                                      

*, !, !! – interesting to very interesting celestial event                                                                                                                                                                         

E –  calendar or geometry- related event (such as an equinox)

 

Day Date Note Description
Mon  Feb. 4 New Moon
Tue 5 The waxing crescent Moon reaches apogee at 406,555 km (252,622 miles) from Earth’s center.
Fri 10 * The waxing crescent Moon passes near MARS. Look low in the WSW after sunset.
Tue 12 1st Quarter Moon
Mon 18 * VENUS and SATURN have a close conjunction in the southeastern sky, in the hours before sunrise.
Tue 19 FULL Snow MOON. The Moon also reaches perigee at 356,761 km (221,681 miles) from Earth’s center.
Tue 26 Last Quarter Moon
Wed 26 * MERCURY reaches greatest eastern elongation, 18.13 degrees east of the Sun; look west after sunset.
Mon/Tue 27 * The waning crescent Moon passes near JUPITER. Look E in the hours after midnight.
 
Fri,  Sat Mar. 1,2 ! Look E before dawn to see a line of planetary objects. Starting from the right end, the objects in the line are JUPITER, the waning crescent Moon, SATURN and VENUS. Before dawn on Sat., Mar. 2, the Moon will be to the right of Venus.
Mon 4 The Moon reaches apogee at 406,391 km (252,520 miles) from Earth’s center.
Wed 6 New Moon
Sun 10 E Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) begins at 2 a.m.; set your clocks ahead one hour!
Mon 11 * The waxing crescent Moon passes near MARS. Look WSW after sunset.
Thu 14 1st Quarter Moon
Tue 19 The waxing gibbous Moon reaches perigee at 359,377 km (252,014 miles) from Earth’s center.
Wed 20 FULL Worm MOON
Wed 20 E The vernal equinox (Sun shining directly down on Earth’s equator) occurs at 5:58 p.m. (EDT).
Sat 23 ! Free PUBLIC NIGHT at the WCSU Planetarium and Observatory on the Westside Campus.

Planetarium show: 7 – 8 p.m. EDT

Viewing with 20-inch telescope (if skies are clear): 8 – 10 p.m. EDT

Visible: Mars, Pleiades, Orion Nebula, waning gibbous Moon

Tue 26 * The waning gibbous Moon passes near JUPITER. Look E in late evening.
Thu 28 Last Quarter Moon
Fri 28/29 The waning crescent Moon passes near Saturn. Look E in the hours after midnight
Sun 31 The waning crescent Moon reaches apogee at 405,577 km (252,014 miles) from Earth’s center.
Mon, Tue Apr. 1, Apr. 2 !

!

Look low in the east, in the hour before sunrise, to see (looking from west to east) an alignment of the waning crescent Moon, VENUS and MERCURY. The next night sees Venus with the thinner crescent Moon lower and eastward of the planet, with Mercury below and eastward of both.
Fri 5 New Moon
Thu 11 * MERCURY reaches greatest western elongation, 27.72 degrees west of the Sun; look east before sunrise.
Fri 12 First Quarter Moon
Sat 13 ! Free PUBLIC NIGHT at the WCSU Planetarium and Observatory on the Westside Campus.

Planetarium show: 7 – 8 p.m. EDT

Viewing with 20-inch telescope (if skies are clear): 8 – 10 p.m. EDT

Visible: Castor, Moon 1 day past 1st Quarter, Algieba

Tue 16 The Moon reaches perigee at 364,205 km (226,306 miles) from Earth’s center.
Fri 19 FULL Pink MOON
Fri 26 Last Quarter Moon
Sat 27 ! Free PUBLIC NIGHT at the WCSU Planetarium and Observatory on the Westside Campus.

Planetarium show: 8 – 9 p.m. EDT

Viewing with 20-inch telescope (if skies are clear): 9 – 11 p.m. EDT

Visible: Algieba, carbon star Y CVn, Mizar and Alcor, M44 star cluster

Sun 28 The Moon reaches apogee at 404,582 km (251,396 miles) from Earth’s center.
 
Sat May 4 New Moon
Sat 11 ! Free PUBLIC NIGHT at the WCSU Planetarium and Observatory on the Westside Campus.

Planetarium show: 8 – 9 p.m. EDT

Viewing with 20-inch telescope (if skies are clear): 9 – 11 p.m. EDT

Visible: 1st Quarter Moon, Mizar and Alcor, carbon star Y CVn, M13 star cluster, Epsilon Lyrae, Ring Nebula

Mon 13 The Moon reaches perigee at 369,009 km (229,292 miles) from Earth’s center.
Sat 18 FULL Flower MOON
Sat 18 ! Free PUBLIC NIGHT at the WCSU Planetarium and Observatory on the Westside Campus.

Planetarium show: 8 – 9 p.m. EDT

Viewing with 20-inch telescope (if skies are clear): 9 – 11 p.m. EDT

Visible: Mizar and Alcor, Full Moon, carbon star Y CVn, Epsilon Lyrae

Sun 26 Last Quarter Moon; the Moon also reaches apogee at 404,138 km (251,120 miles) from Earth’s center.

 

PLANETARY INFORMATION                                                                                                     

MERCURY shuttles back and forth between pre-dawn and post-sunset appearances during the year, starting the first week of January as a “morning planet” visible low in the ESE before sunrise. It reaches greatest eastern elongation (evening planet) on Feb. 26, greatest western elongation (predawn object) on April 11, and back to an “evening planet” during June.

VENUS – is a brilliant object in the SE predawn sky during January; it reached greatest western elongation, nearly 47 degrees from the Sun, on Jan. 6. Venus’s eastward and Jupiter’s westward drifting in the night sky brings them close together between Jan. 15 and 27; they are very close (less than 3 degrees separation) between the 22nd and 24th. Venus gradually gets lower and dimmer but remains very conspicuous in the predawn sky through early summer.

MARS not overly bright at magnitude 0, spends January in Pisces and is visible in the southern sky after sunset. As the months progress into spring, Mars fades in brightness but remains visible in the southwest evening sky because of its rapid motion through Pisces, Aries, Taurus and Gemini. For much of the summer, Mars is too close to the Sun to be easily seen.

JUPITERin Ophiuchus, is visible in the SE predawn sky along with brilliant Venus which lies above and right of Jupiter. The two planets pass each other on Jan. 22; thereafter, Jupiter is to the right (westward) of Venus. As spring progresses, Jupiter rises ever earlier (by about 2 hours each month), coming up before midnight by early April. It reaches opposition to the Sun (rising at sunset and visible all night) on June 10.

SATURN – in Sagittarius, rises (as Jupiter does) around 2 hours earlier for each month that passes. It is low in the SE predawn sky during February, but by May it will rise by 1 a.m. Saturn reaches opposition (rising at sunset and visible all night) on July 9.

 

Star Watch is a service provided by the Earth and Planetary Sciences program at Western Connecticut State University. Thanks for Connecting!