Photo Credit & Copyright: ME of the big grey rock in the sky.
Below I have listed most of the major night sky events for this month, birthdays, events in history etc. I have also listed all resources used to generate these monthly calendars at the bottom of the post so dig in, learn and enjoy!
All dates and times were calculated using Military Time & Universal Time (UTC) and I also throw in eastern U.S. time (EST or EDT depending on whether its Daylight Savings or not) but beware, early morning events for UTC will actually likely be late night events on the previous date for the US. For example if something is scheduled to occur at 02:00 UTC on the 14th, that’s 21:00 EST on the 13th.
Another important thing to remember is that a calendar day is actually daylight sandwiched between two darks so when an event says, March 29 for example, you’ve got to check the time because March 29 could very well be in the morning before sunrise and not that coming night.
Finally, calculating events on the Moon is that it’s not as simple as “Ok it’s 40% illuminated so we should see this.” I wish it was that easy but because of libration, locations on the disk of the moon move slightly as we see them. One month an event could occur at 52% illumination and the next month it could occur at 54% illumination.
WERE YOU BORN ON A FULL MOON?! This great page from Moon Giant shows you what phase the Moon was in when you were born; check it out. (this may not work on your phone): http://www.moongiant.com/birthday_moon/
JANUARY 01 (Thu) – Entering the month the Moon is 11 days old in its 29.53 day Synodic Cycle and 87% illuminated in its waxing gibbous phase.
JANUARY 1, 1801: Guiseppe Piazzi discovers the 1st asteroid. The now dwarf planet Ceres.
JANUARY 02, 1920: Birth of Isaac Asimov.
JANUARY 03 (Sun) – The Moon reaches its Greatest Northern Declination of +18.39 degrees.
JANUARY 03 & 04 (Sat & Sun): The Peak of the Quadrantids meteor shower hits on the night of the 03rd and morning of the 04th. This shower could peak at about 120 per hour from the general direction of the constellation Bootes & off the handle of the Big Dipper. The Moon will be near nearly full at about 95% illuminated. The parent body of the Quadrantids is Asteroid 2003 EH. Anyone notice how this particular shower has a name that doesn’t associate with a constellation? It used to represent the now retires constellation Quadrans Muralis. In May of 1922 it was axed and not included in the list of 88 constellations.
Peak night is usually a given night and next morning with the “next morning” being the absolute best time to watch. In fact the closer to morning twilight you can get, the better…..here’s why. If you view the solar system from the top, planets orbit the Sun in a counter clockwise motion, we also rotate in a counter clockwise motion. That means just before sunrise the Earth is pointed in the direction of travel of the Earth itself and meteors are mere “bugs (Or if you prefer; “snowflakes”) hitting the windshield” of Spaceship Earth. For more info on this shower hit the link: https://danspace77.com/2015-meteor-showers/
JANUARY 04 (Sun) – Earth reaches perihelion or its closest point to the Sun in its orbit. It will be at a distance of 0.98 AU (Astronomical Units) from the Sun or about 5 million km or 3 million mi. closer to the Sun then we will be at Earths aphelion in July. If that seems counter intuitive done worry, I explain here: https://danspace77.com/seasons-temperatures/
JANUARY 04 (Sun) Latest sunrise of 2015.
JANUARY 05 (Mon) – The Full Moon will occur at 04:54 UTC (23:54 EST on the 4th). (Name information provided by The Farmer’s Almanac) The Full Wolf Moon – January Amid the cold and deep snows of midwinter, the wolf packs howled hungrily outside Indian villages. Thus, the name for January’s full Moon. Sometimes it was also referred to as the Old Moon, or the Moon After Yule. Some called it the Full Snow Moon, but most tribes applied that name to the next Moon.
JANUARY 07, 1610: Galileo Galilei discovers three of the four “Cosmica Sidera or Medicean Planets” we know them by today as Jupiter’s Galilean Moons, Io, Ganymede & Europa. The fourth wouldn’t be discovered by Galileo until January 13 of that year.
JANUARY 08, 1942: Birth of Stephen Hawking.
JANUARY 09 (Fri) – Apogee Moon occurs at 18:18 UTC (13:18 EST) where the Moon is at its furthest point from Earth in its current orbit and will be subtending at 29’ arc minutes from a distance of 405,410 km (251,910 mi).
JANUARY 10 (Sat) – Mercury and Venus will be a mere 0.5 degrees apart low on the western horizon after sunset.
JANUARY 12 (Mon) – The brilliant Walther Sunset Ray will occur around 22:44 UTC (17:44 EST). Located in the ancient 145 kilometer (90 mile) Necterian age crater named Walther (Formerly Walter or Valtherus) is a special treat that occurs monthly for a matter of a few hours when illumination is around 44%. On the western rim of the crater there’s a notch and when the Sun is setting low on the lunar horizon (When the crater is near the terminator) light penetrates the notch, creating a vast triangle or “V” shaped light ray across the craters floor that ends as it illuminates the central peak of the crater. Walther Crater a heavily eroded crater located in the Lunar Southern Highlands at the Selenographic Coordinates (Definition below) of Latitude: 33.1°S / Longitude: 1.0°E. It’s named after German astronomer Bernhard Walther. This crater also has a sunrise ray that instead of a light ray is a long shadow cast by the central peak.
JANUARY 12 (Mon) – The Moon reaches Ascending Node at 15:33 UTC (10:33 EST).
JANUARY 12 (Mon) – Sunset on the lunar scarp; Rupes Recta or the “Straight Wall” is visible about the day of or day after last quarter (about 45-50% illuminated) the setting Sun causes it to look white as it illuminates the slope. Two weeks later, during lunar sunrise after first quarter it will appear black.
JANUARY 13, 1610: Galileo Galilei discovers the fourth “Cosmica Sidera or Medicean Planet” we know it today as Jupiter’s Galilean Moon, Callisto.
JANUARY 13 (Tue) – Dawn spacecraft begins “Optical Navigation” imagery of Ceres.
JANUARY 13 (Tue) – Last Quarter (3rd Quarter) Moon occurs this month at 09:48 UTC (04:48 EST).
JANUARY 13 (Tue) – Pico Mons Sunset occurs this morning around 03:44 EST (08:44 UTC). The day of or day after last quarter (around 50% illuminated) the setting Sun hits Pico Mons in Mare Imbrium, near Crater Plato and casts a long shadow along the lunar plains.
JANUARY 14 (Wed) – The CURTISS CROSS, is a creation of shadows throughout craters Gambart and Parry which create an “X” shaped formation and will occur around 18:44 UTC (13:44 EST). The Curtiss Cross is associated with the third (last) quarter Moon and forms about 14 hours past the third quarter mark.
JANUARY 14 (Wed) – Mercury reaches greatest eastern elongation at 18.5 degrees. Remember, eastern elongation means that it will be seen in the west after sunset as an evening star.
JANUARY 15 (Thu) – “Jupiter Galilean Moon Mutual Event” Observers in North America will witness Io eclipse Callisto from 12:13 to 12:39 UTC. The combined drop in magnitude will be 0.5.
JANUARY 15 (Thu) – 25 (Sun) As of the 15th we are on the verge of January’s new moon (Lunation 1139), this week presents nights that are the absolute BEST nights to get out and observe Deep Sky Objects (DSOs) because you won’t have to look through the spotlight that is the Moon. Night skies without the Moon are significantly more productive for viewing and photography ANY night sky object (besides the Moon itself of course). For the lucky ones, this week offers the amazing spectacle of the extreme crescent moon, both waning in the east & waxing in the west.
JANUARY 17, 1706: Birth of Benjamin Franklin.
JANUARY 17 (Sat) – Io and Europa create a double Galilean moon shadow transit across Jupiter’s disk. Scheduled to occur from 03:53 to 04:58 UTC (22:53 to 23:58 EST on the 16th).
JANUARY 18 (Sun) – The Moon is at its Greatest Southern Declination of -18.34 degrees.
JANUARY 19 (Mon) – “Jupiter Galilean Moon Mutual Event” Observers in North America will witness Ganymede occult Europa from 02:31 to 02:37 UTC. The combined drop in magnitude will be 0.5.
JANUARY 20 (Tue) – New Moon (LUNATION 1139) occurs at 13:14 UTC (08:14 EST). This new moon is also the 1st of 6 super moons in 2015. Confused as to what a supermoon is? Check it out: https://danspace77.com/whats-a-supermoon-2015-list/
JANUARY 20, 1930: Birth of Buzz Aldrin.
JANUARY 20 (Tue) Neptune and Mars will be less than a half-degree apart at 20:00 UTC (15:00 EST).
JANUARY 21 (Wed) – Perigee Moon occurs at 20:07 UTC (15:07 EST) and is when the Moon is at its closest point to Earth in its orbit. It will be subtending at 33’arc minutes from a distance of 359,642 km (223,471 mi).
JANUARY 23 (Fri) – “Jupiter Galilean Moon Mutual Event” Observers in North America will witness Callisto eclipse Ganymede from 09:06 to 09:20 UTC. The combined drop in magnitude will be a great 1.4.
JANUARY 23, 1949: Birth of Bob Cabana.
JANUARY 24, 1947: Birth of Michio Kaku.
JANUARY 24 (Sat) – Io, Europa and Ganymede create a triple Galilean moon shadow transit across Jupiter’s disk. Scheduled to occur from 06:27 to 06:52 UTC (01:27 to 01:52 EST). This will be followed briefly by all three of those moons themselves passing across Jupiter’s disk.
JANUARY 25 (Sun) – The Moon reaches Descending Node at 10:23 UTC (05:23 EST).
JANUARY 26 (Mon) – Dawn Spacecraft begins “Better Than Hubble” imagery of Ceres.
JANUARY 26 (Mon) – “Jupiter Galilean Moon Mutual Event” Observers in North America will witness Ganymede occult Europa from 05:13 to 05:19 UTC. The combined drop in magnitude will be 0.5.
JANUARY 27 (Mon) – First Quarter Moon is the Moon watchers paradise. Occurring at 04:49 UTC (23:49 EST on the 26th), First Quarter Moons and the waxing crescent phase leading up to it offer some of the most visually stunning views the Moon has to offer. Most of us will take the beautiful curves, valleys and shadows of a 1st Quarter Moon over a Full Moon ANY day.
JANUARY 27 (Tue) – LUNAR-X also known as the PURBACH or WERNER CROSS is scheduled to begin forming the “X” around 14:40 UTC (09:40 EST). The Lunar-X is the big, more prominent brother to the Curtiss Cross. This “X” is created by shadowing throughout the rims and ridges of craters LaCaille, Blanchinus and Purbach. The “X” formations occur along the terminator (where “day” meets “night” across the Moon). It typically begins just after first quarter when the Moon is approximately 53% illuminated.
JANUARY 27, 1967: Apollo 1 (AS-204/CSM-12) Tragedy.
JANUARY 28 (Wed) – “Jupiter Galilean Moon Mutual Event” Observers in North America will witness Europa eclipse Io from 06:18 to 06:27 UTC. The combined drop in magnitude will be 0.5.
JANUARY 28, 1986: STS-51-L Challenger launches from KSC LC-39B and explodes at T+72 sec.
JANUARY 28 (Wed) – Sunrise on the lunar scarp; Rupes Recta or the “Straight Wall” is visible the night of or the night after first quarter (around 60% illuminated) the rising Sun causes it to look black as its shadow is cast. Two weeks later, during lunar sunset it will appear white.
JANUARY 28 (Wed) – Pico Mons Sunrise occurs the night of or the night after first quarter (around 62% illuminated) the rising Sun hits Pico Mons in Mare Imbrium, near Crater Plato and casts a long shadow along the lunar plains.
JANUARY 28 (Wed) – MAGINUS SUNRISE RAY will occur around 01:44 UTC (20:44 EST on the 27). At the right times and as the Sun rises over the Crater Maginus (Near the terminator) a beautiful sun ray shines through a break in the craters eastern wall. The result is a vast triangle or “V” formation of light cast upon the crater floor for a period of a few hours. Maginus Crater (Named after Italian astronomer Giovanni Antonio Magini) is a pre-Nectarian impact crater located in the southern lunar highlands and to the south east of Tycho Crater. It’s 110 miles (177km.) and has been extremely eroded by subsequent impacts on or near the site through the millennia. Its selenographic coordinates (Definition below) are Latitude: 50.5°S / Longitude: 6.3°W.
JANUARY 29 (Thu) – “Jupiter Galilean Moon Mutual Event” Observers in North America will witness Io occult Europa from 14:31 to 14:35 UTC. The combined drop in magnitude will be 0.6.
JANUARY 31 (Sat) – Leaving the month the Moon is 12 days old in its 29.53 day Synodic Cycle and 89% illuminated in its waxing gibbous phase.
***Definition of LIBRATION (basically) – Is an oscillation of an orbiting body relative to another. OK, so…We know the Earth/Moon system is tidally locked so we always see the same side of the moon. Due to libration, we ACTUALLY see about 60% of the Moon instead of what you may intuitively think of as a 50% measurement. That’s because the Moon oscillates slightly as it rotates and orbits Earth. So, on occasion and with a keen eye we can see a little further “around the corner” north, south, east and west on the moon by a couple degrees.
***SUBTENDING Explained – Definition: The angle formed by an object at a given external point. The moon subtends an angle of approximately 0.54° (32 arc minutes) to an observer on the Earth. Of course, the moon’s orbit is not constant or exactly circular, so this varies a little, but not by very much. If you hold up your thumb at arm’s length, you can easily cover the full moon. This means your thumb subtends a larger angle to your eye at arm’s length than the moon does at 380,000 kilometers. In general, the closer you are to a particular object the larger that subtending angle.
***SELENOGRAPHIC COORDINATES Defined – Selenographic coordinates are used to refer to locations on the surface of Earth’s Moon. Any position on the lunar surface can be referenced by specifying two numerical values, which are comparable to the latitude and longitude of Earth. The longitude gives the position east or west of the Moon’s prime meridian, which is the line of longitude passing through the point on the lunar surface directly facing Earth. (See also Earth’s prime meridian.) This can be thought of as the midpoint of the visible Moon as seen from the Earth. The latitude gives the position north or south of the lunar equator. Both of these coordinates are given in terms of degrees. Astronomers defined the fundamental location in the selenographic coordinate system by the small, bowl-shaped satellite crater ‘Mösting A’. The coordinates of this crater are defined as: Latitude: 3° 12′ 43.2″ South / Longitude: 5° 12′ 39.6″ West. The coordinate system has become precisely defined due to the Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment. Anything past 90°E or 90°W would not be seen from Earth, except for libration, which makes 59% of the Moon visible.
NASA | Moon Phase & Libration Northern Hemisphere 2015:
NASA | Moon Phase & Libration Southern Hemisphere 2015:
2015 Moon phases with TIMES: http://www.calendar-12.com/moon_phases/2015
FULL YEAR of Lunar Cycles: Previous and Future years as well: http://kalender-365.de/lunar-calendar.php?yy=2015
2015 Moon phase & illumination calendar: http://www.calendar-12.com/moon_calendar/2015/march
Full & New Moon Calendar: http://www.moongiant.com/Full_Moon_New_Moon_Calendar.php
BLUE MOON Calendar: http://www.moongiant.com/Blue_Moon_Calendar.php
SUPERMOON Calendar: http://www.astropro.com/features/tables/cen21ce/suprmoon.html
2015 Perigee & Apogee DATES, TIMES & DISTANCES as well as Full & New Moon dates & times: http://www.fourmilab.ch/earthview/pacalc.html
2015 Perigee & Apogee: http://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/moon/distance.html?year=2015&n=156
Lunar Ray predictions: http://www.lunar-occultations.com/rlo/rays/rays.htm
Sun/Moon Rise & Set times: http://www.40-below.com/sunmoon/
Sun/Moon Rise & Set times for the DAY: http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/RS_OneDay.php
Sun/Moon Rise & Set times for the YEAR: http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/RS_OneYear.php
Farmer’s Almanac Full Moon Names: http://www.farmersalmanac.com/full-moon-names/
Lunar ASCENDING & DESCENDING Nodes: http://astropixels.com/ephemeris/moon/moonnodes2001.html
Greatest NORTHERN & SOUTHERN Declinations of the Moon: http://www.astropro.com/features/tables/cen21ce/mo-dcl-2015.html
Moon Phases for ANY date: http://www.moonpage.com/
NASA GODDARD Moon NOW: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a000000/a004100/a004118/
Moon right NOW: http://www.calculatorcat.com/moon_phases/phasenow.php
Moon right NOW: http://www.die.net/moon/
Moon right NOW: http://www.calendar-365.com/moon/current-moon-phase.html
NASA JPL Ephemeris Calculator: http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/?horizons
Lunar Ephemeris Calculator: http://www.lunar-occultations.com/rlo/ephemeris.htm
Sunrise & Sunset CHART: http://sunrisehour.com/sunrise-sunset/united_states/boston_ma
Kilometers (km) to miles (mi.) converter: http://www.metric-conversions.org/length/kilometers-to-miles.htm
2015 Astronomical Events: http://www.astropixels.com/ephemeris/astrocal/astrocal2015pst.html
Occult Software: http://www.lunar-occultations.com/iota/occult4.htm
Greatest Elongations of Mercury & Venus: http://www.jgiesen.de/skymap/MercuryVenus/
Steve Preston’s Asteroid Occultations: http://www.asteroidoccultation.com/2015-Best-Events.htm
US Naval Observatory Celestial Phenomena for 2015: http://asa.usno.navy.mil/
Seiichi Yoshida’s Weekly bright Comets: http://www.aerith.net/comet/weekly/current.html
International Meteor Organizations 2015 Information: http://www.imo.net/
Satellite Tracking: http://www.stoff.pl/
NASA Eclipses: http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse.html
S&T Jupiter 2015 Observation Almanac: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/a-jupiter-almanac/
S&T Galilean Moon Mutual Events: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/sky-and-telescope-magazine/beyond-the-printed-page/mutual-events-jupiters-satellites-201415/
Northern Virginia Astronomy Club: Jupiter Moon Events for 2015: http://www.novac.com/wp/observing/jeffscorner/next-years-galilean-moon-events/