....Oakland, California - Stargazing since 1924

What's Up - 2017



Bright Planet Notes for 2017:

Major Astronomical Events
(Times listed are local to Oakland, California)
(Meteor showers shown in separate table, below)
("Opposition" means the planet is at its closest approach to Earth in its orbit - this makes it the biggest and brightest to be seen for the year)
(Fairly rare events are in bold and blue)

Jan 27, 11:16pm - Waning gibbous Moon in conjunction with Jupiter.
August 21, 8:04am to 10:34am - Partial eclipse of the Sun as viewed from SF Bay Area; 9:14am greatest coverage. Find out where to view total eclipse visible from North America here.
Sep 12, 3:28am - Lunar occultation of Aldebaran, Taurus; reappears at 4:47am.
Nov 14, 6:15am - Close conjunction of Venus and Jupiter, just above the eastern horizon.
Dec 3 - Supermoon

Mercury: Best chances for viewing Mercury occur roughly a few days before and after the following dates and times. Note that Mercury is always close to the Sun, and whenever it is visible, it will be low to the eastern or western horizon, just before sunrise (in the east), or just after sunset (in the west), respectively. Use a pair of binoculars to aid your attempts, and as always - DO NOT LOOK AT THE SUN! (AS=After Sunset, PD=Pre-Dawn)

Jan 17/PD
Mar 31/AS
May 13/PD
Jul 22/AS
Nov 23/AS
Dec 31/PD

Venus: Similar to Mercury in that it is also always close to the Sun, but can stay visible much longer, and is much brighter. In fact, Venus is so bright, if it is at least approximately 20-30 degrees (about the twice or thrice the width of your fist) away from the Sun, it should be able to be seen with a telescope even during broad daylight. DO NOT try this unless you know EXACTLY what you are doing! Accidentally looking at the Sun through a telescope can result in permanent eye damage. Be sure to consult with someone skilled and experienced in doing this before attempting it, yourself. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Venus will be best seen in the western skies of evening from January through to mid-March 2017 before it is lost to the Sun. Reappears mid-April in the eastern pre-dawn skies and is eventually lost to the Sun again by October; won't be seen again until the early evening western skies in mid-May 2018.

Jan 31/AS Conjunction w/Moon and Mars
Apr 23/PD Conjunction w/Moon
May 22/PD Conjunction w/Moon
Jun 20/PD Conjunction w/Moon
Jul 20/PD Conjunction w/Moon
Aug 18/PD Conjunction w/Moon
Sep 17 /PD Conjunction w/Moon

Mars: At the beginning of January, Mars is visible low in the west during the early evening hours, moving too close to the Sun by around mid-March to be worth viewing; won't be visible again until mid-November, low in the east.

Jupiter: Starts the year fairly low in the ESE during the wee hours of the morning, but rises earlier and earlier so that by mid-April, it's easily visible in the east during early evening, and will stay visible until mid-July before being lost to the Sun in the west. Starts to become visible again in the pre-dawn hours late in December, and has a very close conjunction with Mars on Jan 6, 2018.

Jan 19/PD Conjunction w//waning half Moon
Feb 15/PD Conjunction w//waning gibbous Moon
Mar 14/PD Conjunction w/waning gibbous Moon
Apr 7 Jupiter at opposition
Apr 10 Conjunction w/full Moon
May 7 Conjunction w/waxing gibbous Moon
Jun 3 Conjunction w/waxing gibbous Moon
Jun 30 Conjunction w/waxing half Moon
Jul 28 Conjunction w/waxing crescent Moon
Jan 6, 2018 Close conjunction w/Mars

Saturn: Begins appearing low in the easterly pre-dawn hours of mid-February. It slowly moves higher in the sky, further west, and earlier in the evening, until it becomes visible in the late evening hours of early June, reaches opposition on June 15th, and then become more easily visible earlier in the evening by mid-July. It will stay viewable until late September, when it will eventually be lost to the western horizon. It won't become visible again until the pre-dawn hours of early April 2018.

Uranus: Starts the year high up in the early evening but becomes fairly unviewable by mid-February. Begins to be viewable again in the wee hours of early August, and will be viewable in the early evening by mid-November.

Neptune: Won't begin to be visible until the wee hours of mid-June, rising earlier and earlier until it becomes visible in the early evenings of late-September. Should be viewable through mid-December before being lost to the western skies.

New Moons for 2017: Jan 27, Feb 26, Mar 27, Apr 26, May 25, Jun 23, Jul 23, Aug 21, Sep 19, Oct 19, Nov 18, Dec 17.

Meteor showers for 2017 (green text is good)

Morning of Max Name ZHR Radiant & Direction Lunar
Jan 3-4 Quadrantids 40 Bootes low
Apr 22-23 Lyrids 20 Lyra (E) medium
May 6-7 Eta Aquarids 60 Aquarius (E) high
Jul 28-29 Delta Aquarids 20 Aquarius (S) medium
Aug 12-13 Perseids 60 Perseid (NE) high
Oct 7 Draconids 10 Draco (NE) high
Oct 21-22 Orionids 20 Orion (SE) low
Nov 4-5 Taurids 10 Taurus high
Nov 17-18 Leonids 15 Leo (E) low
Dec 13-14 Geminids 120 Gemini (S) medium

Ten of this year's showers (green text) are favorably absent most or all of the Moon, and offer the best viewing opportunities. Note that the best time to view meteor showers is usually between 2am and astronomical dawn. Also, the showers themselves generally occur for days before and after their peaks, and can still be worth watching, off-peak.

The lunar phase calendar (above) was created with a very cool program called Quick Phase, which generates all kinds of info on the phases of the moon. If you're interested in getting it yourself, click here.

*transit - to cross from the eastern half of the sky to the western half, or vice-versa. When an object transits in an east-to-west direction, it's at its highest elevation above the horizon. This is the best time to view any object, because the higher it is in the sky, the fewer layers of Earth's atmosphere will interfere with, and distort, the image.

For more info about What's Up this month, check out Sky & Telescope's web page.

Clear Sky Clock for Chabot Space & Science Center This handy utility predicts what the skies are likely to be like within the next two days. It may take a minute to figure out, but after that, it's quite simple, and very useful.

Direct link for the weekend viewing prospects at Chabot Observatory (usually posted around 6pm on Friday and Saturday evening).






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