Astronomical SIGHTS in a SKY NEAR YOU!

Graphics c/o Starry Night Education

This page updated June 25, 2019.

See also the HOME page or COMING EVENTS .

VIS. COMETS page has more details and finder charts for currently visible comets.

The Planets for Spring/Summer 2019:

Venus continues as the obvious Morning Star into the spring skies of 2019 but it is getting closer and closer to the Sun. By July it is behind Sol and not visible until late fall as an Evening Star. The aptly-named Mercury circles the Sun quickly and alternates between morning sky and evening every few months. It re-appears in the western sky in June 2019. Jupiter has finally changed over into the evening skies and reaches opposition June 10 after which it is primarily an evening sky planet.

Mars is moderately bright (magnitude 1.8), but it is too far to see any features or phase on its surface. It passed the Pleiades in early April and skims by M35 on May 18/19. See below. That will be a good photo opportunity! At the end of May it starts to get lost in twilight in the west after sunset but it has one last hurray on June 17 when Mercury passes less than 0.3° from Mars in twilight sunset skies.

Saturn follows Jupiter into evening skies by about two hours and becomes an evening sky object by the start of summer. It is in Sagittarius and easy viewing just to the east of Jupiter all summer long.

As for the gas giants, both Uranus and Neptune finally return to evening skies by early summer but they are still visible only in the wee hours of the morning.

Dwarf planet, Pluto is in Sagittarius near Saturn. Even then, it can be seen only in moonless sky and with larger telescopes. 2019 Finder charts for all planets, dwarf planets and asteroids are found on our CHARTS/FORMS page.

Summer Sky Sights

Aug 13, 2019 Perseid Meteor Shower
The most eagerly awaited shower of the summer is going to be brightened considerably by the nearly full moon. The Moon rises at 7 pm while it is still daylight and by midnight when the shower should be going full strength, it is high on the meridian. It sets at 4 am and with a 3 am peak for the shower, only the brightest fireballs will be visible. Under ideal conditions, 90 meteors would appear per hour, but we will be lucky to get half this number. In any case, those bright fireballs will be worth making an effort to observe. Meteor diehards with and without cameras will likely be camped out at the Fox Observatory all night long if weather allows. Diagram below shows the scene at midnight.

Perseid Radiant Aug 12

Aug 28, 2019 Thin Crescent near Beehive Cluster
The 2.3 day old Moon passes across part of the Beehive Cluster, M44, in Cancer during the daytime on Aug 28. But for an hour or so during the dark pre-dawn, the Moon will pose nicely for photos. The best time is from moonrise at 4:15 am to about 5:15 am when twilight spoils the view. By that time Moon and M44 will be about 10 degrees above the horizon and there will be lots of time to take images if the sky is clear at the eastern horizon. Diagram below shows the scene at 5:15 am or so.

Moon M44 Aug 28 copy

Sep 10, 2019 Neptune Reaches Opposition
Neptune reaches opposition in our sky on Sep 10 when it is closest to Earth and its brightest and largest in our sky. But have a look a week sooner than that to catch it passing oh-so-close to a 4th magnitude star, Phi-Aquarii. From the end of August to mid-September, the gap between planet and star is less than 0.2° (a fifth of a degree, 12 minutes!) and you can watch Neptune closing in on Phi-Aquarii for a week or more. The minimum spacing on Sep 6 is a mere 13 seconds of arc at 9 am or so. But then Neptune is below our horizon, so be happy to see Neptune less than a minute from the star during nighttime, Sep 5 and 6. Click on the diagram to download a copy.


Neptune shines at magnitude 7.8 and Phi is rated at 4.2 so there will be quite a difference, and you can use the star to guide you to Neptune for both August and September. Seeing a disk on the planet is difficult since it is only 2.4 arc-seconds wide.

A summary of the entire 2019 year of ASTRONOMY events can be found here:
An astronomical calendar for 2018 (with diagrams of sky sights like those above) will be available soon for download from Alan Dyer's website here: (look at the bottom of the "about Alan" page). Or here: Amazing Sky Calendar 2019

Meteor shower calendar for 2019 from is available here:
EarthSky Meteor Calendar 2019