Astronomical Events 2015

astronomyDates and times of Astronomical events such as Moon Phase, Meteor Showers, Eclipses, Conjunctions and other events.

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Calendar of events for 2015

  • January 3,4 – Quadrantids Meteor Shower. The Quadrantids is an above average shower, with up to 40 meteors per hour at its peak. The shower runs annually from January 1-5. It peaks this year on the night of the 2nd and morning of the 3rd. The thin crescent moon will set early in the evening leaving dark skies for what could be an excellent show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Bootes, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
  • January 5 – Full Moon. Occurs at 04:53 UTC.
  • January 20 – New Moon. Occurs at 13:14 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
  • January 26 – Asteroid Near Earth Fly By – Asteroid, 2004 BL86, will safely pass about three times the distance of Earth to the moon on January 26. The asteroid is expected to be observable to amateur astronomers with small telescopes and strong binoculars.

  • February 3 – Full Moon. Occurs at 23:09 UTC.
  • February 6 – Jupiter at Opposition. The giant planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. This is the best time to view and photograph Jupiter and its moons. A medium-sized telescope should be able to show you some of the details in Jupiter’s cloud bands
  • February 3 – Full Moon. Occurs at 23:53 UTC.
  • February 18 – New Moon. Occurs at 23:47 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
  • February 22Conjunction of Venus and Mars.  The two bright planets will be visible within only half a degree of each other in the evening sky. Look to the west just after sunset.
  • March 5 – Full Moon. Occurs at 18:05 UTC.
  • March 20 – March Equinox. The March equinox occurs at 16:57 UTC. The Sun will shine directly on the equator and there will be nearly equal amounts of day and night throughout the world. This is also the first day of spring (vernal equinox) in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of fall (autumnal equinox) in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • March 20 – New Moon. Occurs at 22:45 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
  • April 8 – Mars at Opposition. The red planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. This is the best time to view and photograph Mars.
  • April 4 – Full Moon. Occurs at 12:05 UTC.
  • April 4 – Total Lunar Eclipse. Visible throughout most of North America, South America, and Australia. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information)
  • April 18 – New Moon. Occurs at 18:57 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
  • April 22, 23 – Lyrids Meteor Shower. The Lyrids is an average shower, usually producing about 20 meteors per hour at its peak. The shower runs annually from April 16-25. It peaks this year on the night of the night of the 22nd and morning of the 23rd. These meteors can sometimes produce bright dust trails that last for several seconds. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Lyra, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
  • May 4 – New Moon. Occurs at 06:14 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
  • May 5, 6 – Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower. The Eta Aquarids is an above average shower, capable of producing up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak. Most of the activity is seen in the Southern Hemisphere. In the Northern Hemisphere, the rate can reach about 30 meteors per hour. The shower runs annually from April 19 to May 28. It peaks this year on the night of May 5 and the morning of the May 6. The first quarter moon will set just after midnight leaving fairly dark skies for what should be a good show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Aquarius, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
  • May 14 – Full Moon. Occurs at 03:20 UTC.May 18 – New Moon. Occurs at 04:13 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
  • May 23 – Saturn at Opposition. The ringed planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. This is the best time to view and photograph Saturn and its moons.
  • June 2– Full Moon. Occurs at 16:19 UTC.
  • June 16 – New Moon. Occurs at 14:05 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
  • June 21 – June Solstice. The June solstice occurs at 16:38 UTC.
  • July 2 – Full Moon. Occurs at 02:19 UTC.
  • June 24 Mercury at Greatest Western Elongation. The planet Mercury reaches greatest western elongation of 22.5 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to view Mercury since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the morning sky. Look for the planet low in the eastern sky just before sunrise.
  • July 1Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter. A spectacular conjunction of Venus and Jupiter will be visible in the evening sky. The two bright planets will be extremely close, appearing only 0.3 degrees apart. Look for this impressive pairing in the western sky just after sunset.
  • July 16 – New Moon. Occurs at 01:24 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
  • July 28, 29 – Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower. The Delta Aquarids is an average shower that can produce up to 20 meteors per hour at its peak.  The shower runs annually from July 12 to August 23. It peaks this year on the night of July 28 and morning of July 29. A Thin crescent moon will set early in the evening leaving dark skies for what should a good show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Aquarius, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
  • July 31 – Full Moon.- Occurs at 10:43 UTC. This full moon is also a super moon and it will be 12% to 30% brighter than it was in January of this year.
  • August 12, 13 – Perseids Meteor Shower. The Perseids is one of the best meteor showers to observe, producing up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak. The shower runs annually from July 17 to August 24. It peaks this year on the night of August 12 and the morning of August 13. The waning gibbous moon will block out some of the meteors this year, but the Perseids are so bright and numerous that it should still be a good show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Perseus, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
  • August 18 – Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter.  The two bright planets will come unusually close to
  • August 14 – New Moon. Occurs at 14:53 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
  • August 29 – Full Moon. – SUPER MOON – Occurs at 18:35 UTC.
  • September 4Mercury at Greatest Eastern Elongation. The planet Mercury reaches greatest eastern elongation of 27 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to view Mercury since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the evening sky. Look for the planet low in the western sky just after sunset.
  • September 13 – New Moon. Occurs at 06:41 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
  • September 13Partial Solar Eclipse. A partial solar eclipse occurs when the Moon covers only a part of the Sun, sometimes resembling a bite taken out of a cookie. A partial solar eclipse can only be safely observed with a special solar filter or by looking at the Sun’s reflection. The partial eclipse will only be visible in southern Africa, Madagascar, and Antarctica.
  • September 23 – September Equinox. The September equinox occurs at 08:21 UTC.
  • September 28 – Full Moon. Super Moon Occurs at 02:50 UTC.
  • September 28 – Total Lunar Eclipse. Eclipse will be visible throughout most of North America, South America, eastern Asia, and Australia. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information)
  • October 1Comet C/2013 US10 Catalina. Newly discovered comet C/2013 US10 Catalina may reach naked eye visibility on October 1. The comet will continue to brighten and could reach magnitude 5 by November 6.
  • October 8  – Draconids Meteor Shower. The Draconids is a minor meteor shower producing only about 10 meteors per hour. The shower runs annually from October 6-10 and peaks this year on the night of the 8th and morning of the 9th.  Best viewing will be just after midnight from a dark location far away from city lights. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Draco, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
  • October 16Mercury at Greatest Western Elongation. The planet Mercury reaches greatest western elongation of 18.1 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to view Mercury since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the morning sky. Look for the planet low in the eastern sky just before sunrise.
  • October 21,22 – Orionids Meteor Shower. The Orionids is an average shower producing up to 20 meteors per hour at its peak. The shower runs annually from October 2 to November 7. It peaks this year on the night of October 21 and the morning of October 22. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Orion, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
  • October 13 – New Moon. Occurs at 00:06 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
  • October 26Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter.The two bright planets will be visible within 1 degree of each other in the early morning sky. Look to the east just before sunrise for this impressive planetary pair.
  • October 27– Full Moon.Super Moon  Occurs at 12:05 UTC.
  • October 28Conjunction of Venus, Mars, and Jupiter. A rare, 3-planet conjunction will be visible on the morning of October 28. The planets Venus, Mars, and Jupiter will all form a tight 1-degree triangle in the early morning sky. Look to the east just before sunrise for this spectacular event.
  • November 5, 6 – Taurids Meteor Shower. The Taurids is a long-running minor meteor shower producing only about 5-10 meteors per hour. It is unusual in that it consists of two separate streams. The shower runs annually from September 7 to December 10. It peaks this year on the night of November 5. Full moon this year will block out all but the brightest meteors. Best viewing will be just after midnight from a dark location far away from city lights. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Taurus, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
  • November 11 – New Moon. Occurs at 17:47 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
  • November 17, 18 – Leonids Meteor Shower. The Leonids is an average shower, producing an average of up to 15 meteors per hour at its peak.  The shower runs annually from November 6-30. It peaks this year on the night of the 17th and morning of the 18th.  Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Leo, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
  • November 25 – Full Moon. Occurs at 22:44 UTC.
  • December 7Conjunction of the Moon and Venus. A conjunction of the Moon and Venus will take place on the morning of December 7. The crescent moon will come with 2 degrees of bright planet Venus in the early morning sky. Look to the east just before sunrise.
  • December 11New Moon. The Moon will located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This phase occurs at 10:29 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
  • December 13, 14Geminids Meteor Shower. The Geminids is the king of the meteor showers. It is considered by many to be the best shower in the heavens, producing up to 120 multicolored meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by debris left behind by an asteroid known as 3200 Phaethon, which was discovered in 1982. The shower runs annually from December 7-17. It peaks this year on the night of the 13th and morning of the 14th. The crescent moon will set early in the evening leaving dark skies for what should be an excellent show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Gemini, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
  • December 21, 22Ursids Meteor Shower. The Ursids is a minor meteor shower producing about 5-10 meteors per hour. It is produced by dust grains left behind by comet Tuttle, which was first discovered in 1790. The shower runs annually from December 17-25. It peaks this year on the the night of the 21st and morning of the 22nd. This year the waxing gibbous moon will be bright enough to hide most of the fainter meteors. If you are patient, you might still be able to catch some of the brighter ones. Best viewing will be just after midnight from a dark location far away from city lights. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Ursa Minor, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
  • December 22 – December Solstice. The December solstice occurs at 04:48 UTC.
  • December 25 – Full Moon. Occurs at 11:11 UTC.
  • December 29 Mercury at Greatest Eastern Elongation. The planet Mercury reaches greatest eastern elongation of 19.7 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to view Mercury since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the evening sky. Look for the planet low in the western sky just after sunset.

Definitions:

Perihelion – When the orbit of a planet closest to the Sun.
Aphelion – When the orbit of a planet farthest from the Sun.
Greatest elongation – elongation is the angle between the Sun and a planet as seen from Earth, during eastern elongation (E), the planet appears as an evening star, during western elongation (W), the planet appears as a morning star.
Opposition – position in the orbit of a planet when opposites the Sun as seen from Earth.
Conjunction – position in the orbit of a planet when appears closer to the Sun as seen from Earth.
Occultation – Moon occults or eclipses a star or a planet.
Ascending Node – the point where a planet passes from the southern to the northern part of its orbit.
Descending Node – the point where a planet passes from the northern to the southern side of its orbit.

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