The year's special events in the sky

 

 

Sun:   Looking at the Sun either with the unaided eye or through binoculars or a telescope is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS!
PERMANENT EYE DAMAGE CAN AND PROBABLY WILL OCCUR.
Click 
here  to find out how to observe the Sun safely.

 

 

Moon Phases: 

The Moon is ideal for viewing in the week centred on the First Quarter phase, both regarding the sights presented and the most convenient time for observing (evenings). In addition, it is quite high in the sky at sunset. First Quarter in 2024 will occur on the following dates:

2024:    January 18;   February 17;   March 17;   April 16;   May 15;   June 14;   July 14;  August 13;   September 11;   October 11;   November 09;   December 09.

                                                                             

 

Eclipses in 2024:

 

Lunar:

PENUMBRAL, MARCH 25:   The next lunar eclipse visible from Australia will occur on this night, but it is only penumbral. The eclipse will begin at 2:53 pm, when the Moon is below our horizon. Maximum eclipse will be at 5:12 pm. The Full Moon will rise at 5:55 pm, but the Earth's shadow in penumbral eclipses is very faint. Although about two thirds of the Moon will be immersed in the penumbra, the effect will be hardly noticeable. The eclipse will end at 7:32 pm.

PARTIAL, SEPTEMBER 18:   This partial eclipse will occur around midday, when the Moon will be below our horizon. No part of it will be visible from Australia. The next total lunar eclipses visible from the Sunshine Coast will occur on September 8, 2025 (in the hours before dawn), and on March 3, 2026 (perfectly timed to occur between 6:44 pm and 12:23 am).

 

Solar:

TOTAL, APRIL 09:    No part of this eclipse of the Sun will be visible from anywhere in Australia, as the main eclipse shadow will only pass over the eastern Pacific, Mexico, the eastern half of the USA, Newfoundland and the North Atlantic. Asia, Europe, Africa and South America will miss out this time. The best places to view the eclipse are Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Kentucky, Ohio, Lake Ontario, Maine, New Brunswick and Newfoundland. The largest city totally in the eclipse track will be Dallas, Texas. This will be the second total eclipse visible from the central United States in just seven years, after the solar eclipse of August 21, 2017. Totality will pass through the town of Wapakoneta, Ohio, the home of the late Neil Armstrong, the first man on the Moon. This will be the last total solar eclipse visible in the contiguous United States until August 23, 2044.

ANNULAR, OCTOBER 3 (AEST):    This total eclipse of the Sun will not be visible from Australia. It will begin in the northern Pacific Ocean and will head south-east towards Cape Horn in South America. The only places where the eclipse path will cross land are in the far south of Chile and Argentina, and the Falkland Islands. 

The next total solar eclipse visible from parts of Australia will occur at 12:56 pm on July 22, 2028, the eclipse track running from Wyndham in Western Australia through Alice Springs to Birdsville and then Sydney, before crossing the Tasman Sea to Dunedin in New Zealand's South Island.

 

 

 

The Planets in 2024: 

 

Mercury:        January 2:                     Western stationary point                         
                                        January 13:             
      Greatest elongation from Sun in morning sky (23
27')                                       
                                        February 3:             
     Aphelion
                                        February 28:            
     Superior conjunction
                                        March 18:                     Perihelion
                                        March 25:                     Greatest elongation from Sun in evening sky (18
33')
                                        April 2:                          Eastern stationary point
                                        April 12:                        Inferior conjunction
                                        April
25:                        Western stationary point 
                          
             May 1:                          Aphelion
                                        May 10:                        Greatest elongation from Sun in morning sky
(26
11')
                                        June 14:                       Perihelion
                                        June 15:                       Superior conjunction
                                        July 22:                        Greatest elongation from Sun in evening sky (26
55'
)
                                        July 28:                        Aphelion
                                        August 5:                     Eastern stationary point            
                                        August 19:                   Inferior co
njunction
    
                                    August 29:                   Western stationary point
                                        September 5:              Greatest elongation from Sun in morning sky (18 03')
                                        September 10:            Perihelion
                                        October 1:                   Superior conjunction
                                        October 24:                 Aphelion
                                        November 16:             Greatest elongation from Sun in evening sky (22
24')
                                        November 26:             Eastern stationary point
                                        December 6:               Inferior conjunction
                                        December 7:               Perihelion
                                        December 16:             Western stationary point
                                        December 25:            
Greatest elongation from Sun in morning sky (21
58')
                                        January 19, 2025:       Aphelion


The best times for observing Mercury in the evening sky are:  last two weeks of January;  second week of May to end of month;  most of September. beginning of January 2022.

The best times for observing Mercury in the morning sky are:  mid-February to second week of March, last week of June to second week in July, third and fourth weeks of October.   
                                      
                                  


                              
 Venus:                 March 20:                    Aphelion
                                       June 5:                        Superior conjunction
                                       July 10:                        Perihelion
                                       October 30:                 Aphelion
                                       January 10, 2025:       Greatest elongation from Sun in evening sky (47
10')
                                      
                                                                                 
From January to the end of April, Venus will be close to the Sun and hard to detect. It will reappear in the western twilight sky during June, and from July on will dominate the western twilight sky as an 'Evening Star'. In August it will appear as a little 'gibbous Moon' with a phase of 82% and a diameter of 13 arcseconds. At the end of March it will appear like a small 'half-Moon' with a phase of 50%, but its diameter will have increased to 24 arcseconds. By the beginning of May its phase will have reduced to 24% (like a crescent Moon), but as its angular size will have increased to 39 arcseconds, its brightness will remain unchanged at magnitude -4.5.  Venus will pass through inferior conjunction (between the Earth and the Sun) on June 4, and will therefore move from the evening sky to the pre-dawn sky. Whereas on very rare occasions Venus will pass in front of the Sun at such times (a 'transit of Venus'), on this occasion Venus will pass 14 arcminutes north of the Sun's limb (edge). In the morning sky, Venus will appear as a crescent during July, and as a 'half-Moon' in mid-August. Towards the end of the year it will have shrunk in size and increased in phase until it appears as a tiny 'Full Moon'. Venus will become visible in the western evening sky in May 2021.

         early July 2020                     mid-August 2020                      March 2021                      October 2021                       December 2021        

    
 

 

Mars:                     May 8:                            Perihelion                            (angular diameter =  4.8")
                                       October 14:                   Western quadrature          
  (angular diameter =  8.2")
                                       December 7:                 Western stationary point   
  (angular diameter =  12.2")
                                       January 16, 2025       
    Opposition                           (angular diameter =  14.5")
                                      

In January 2024, Mars will be on the far side of its orbit, and therefore will appear quite small, less than 4 arcseconds in diameter. It will slowly increase in size and brightness as the Earth catches it up during the year.

 

 

Jupiter:                 January 1:                     Eastern quadrature
                                        May 19:                         Co
njunction
                                        September 12:              Western quadrature
                                    
    October 9:                     Western stationary point
                                        December 8:                Opposition (Jupiter rises in the east at sunset)
                                      
                                                                     
The giant planet begins 2024 in the constellation of Aries, the Ram, but crosses into Taurus. the Bull, on April 28.

 

 

Saturn:                  February 29:                 Conjunction
                                     
  June 9:                          Western quadrature
                                        June 30
:                        Western stationary point
                                        September 8:            
    Opposition
                                        November 15:               Eastern stationary point
                                        December 5:          
      Eastern quadrature
                                        March 12, 2025:         
   Conjunction
                                  


Saturn will spend all of 2024 in the constellation of Aquarius.

 

 

 

Uranus:               January 27:                     Eastern stationary point
                                       February 28:             
     Eastern quadrature
                                       May 13:                         
  Conjunction
                                      August 20                        Western quadrature
                                      September 1:                  Western stationary point
                                      November 17:             
    Opposition
                                      January 30, 2025:        
   Eastern stationary point
                                      February 12, 2025:      
   Eastern quadrature


Uranus will begin 2024 in the constellation of Aries, and will cross into Taurus on May 23, 2024.

 

 

Neptune:            March 17:                      Conjunction
                                       June 21:                         Western quadrature
                                       July 2:                        
    Western stationary point
                                       September 21:               Opposition
                                       December 8:                  Eastern stationary point
                                       December 19:                Eastern quadrature
                                       March 20, 2025:             Conjunction



Neptune spends the whole of 2024 in Pisces, not far from Saturn.

 

 

Pluto:                     January 20:                 Conjunction
                                  
   April 22:                       Western quadrature
                                      May 2:                    
     Western stationary point
                                      July 23:                        Opposition
                                      October 12:                 Eastern stationary point
                                      October 22:                 Eastern quadrature
                                      January 21, 2025:       Conjunction

Pluto begins 2024 in Sagittarius, but on January 3 it crosses into Capricornus.  It will not move out of this constellation until  March 15, 2039.

 

 

 

Meteor Showers:

 

    January 4:               Quadrantids
    February 8:              Alpha-Centaurids
    April 22:                   Lyrids
    April 24:                   Pi-Puppids
    May 4:                     Alpha Scorpids
    May 5:                     Eta Aquarids (from Comet Halley)
    June 8:                    Arietids
    June 10:                  Zeta Perseids
    June 29:                  Beta Taurids
    July 10:                   Pegasids
    July 29:                   S Delta-Aquarids
    July 30:                   Alpha-Capricornids
    August 13:              Perseids (from Comet Swift-Tuttle)
    September 1:         Alpha-Aurigids
    October 22:            Orionids (from Comet Halley)
    November 3:           S Taurids (from Comet Encke)
    November 13:         N Taurids (from Comet Encke)
    November 18:         Leonids (from Comet Tempel-Tuttle)
    December 7:          Phoenicids
    December 14:        Geminids (from Comet Phaethon)
    December 24:        Ursids


The 3.9 metre Anglo-Australian Telescope near Coonabarabran, NSW

 

 

 

The main Constellations visible at about 8.00 pm each month, from the horizon to the zenith:          

 

January:

        East:          Hydra, Canis Minor, Canis Major, Puppis
        South:       Crux, Musca, Carina, Vela, Pavo
        West:         Aquarius, Capricornus, Pisces, Grus, Piscis Austrinus, Phoenix, Cetus, Eridanus
        North:        Aries, Perseus, Taurus, Auriga, Gemini, Orion

 

February:

        East:          Leo, Crater, Corvus, Hydra, Canis Major, Puppis
        South:       Grus, Centaurus, Crux, Musca, Carina, Vela
        West:         Cetus, Eridanus, Aries
        North:        Auriga, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Orion

 

March:

        East:          Virgo, Libra, Lupus, Centaurus, Corvus, Crater, Hydra, Crux, Musca, Vela
        South:       Triangulum Australe, Toucan, Carina, Puppis
        West:         Phoenix, Cetus, Eridanus, Taurus, Orion, Canis Major
        North:        Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Canis Minor

 

April:

        East:          Bootes, Libra, Scorpius, Virgo, Centaurus, Lupus, Ara, Crux, Musca, Corvus
        South:       Triangulum Australe, Pavo, Carina, Vela
        West:         Eridanus, Orion, Gemini, Canis Minor, Canis Major, Puppis
        North:        Cancer, Ursa Major, Leo, Crater, Hydra

 

May:

        East:          Corona Borealis, Serpens, Ophiuchus, Sagittarius, Libra, Scorpius, Ara, Lupus, Centaurus
        South:        Indus, Pavo, Triangulum Australe, Crux, Musca, Carina
        West:         Canis Major, Canis Minor, Cancer, Puppis, Hydra
        North:        Ursa Major, Leo, Coma Berenices,Bootes, Virgo, Crater, Corvus

 

June:

        East:          Ophiuchus, Capricornus, Sagittarius, Scorpius
        South:        Pavo, Triangulum Australe, Ara, Lupus, Crux, Musca
        West:         Hydra, Leo, Carina, Vela, Puppis, Crater, Corvus
        North:        Coma Berenices, Bootes, Corona Borealis, Hercules, Virgo, Serpens, Libra

 

July:

        East:          Aquarius, Delphinus, Grus, Capricornus, Aquila, Sagittarius, Scorpius
        South:       Carina, Musca, Crux, Ara, Triangulum Australe, Centaurus
        West:         Hydra, Crater, Corvus, Virgo, Vela, Libra
        North:        Bootes, Corona Borealis, Hercules, Lyra, Ophiuchus, Serpens

 

August:

        East:          Aquarius, Phoenix, Piscis Austrinus, Grus, Sagittarius
        South:       Eridanus, Musca, Crux, Triangulum Australe
        West:         Corvus, Virgo, Bootes, Libra, Centaurus, Ara, Lupus, Scorpius
        North:        Corona Borealis, Hercules, Lyra, Cygnus, Delphinus, Aquila

 

September:

        East:          Pisces, Cetus, Eridanus, Phoenix, Piscis Austrinus, Grus, Aquarius, Capricornus
        South:       Crux, Musca, Triangulum Australe, Pavo
        West:         Centaurus, Libra, Serpens, Ophiuchus, Scorpius, Lupus, Ara
        North:         Lyra, Cygnus, Pegasus, Delphinus, Aquila

 

October:

        East:           Eridanus, Cetus, Aries, Piscis Austrinus
        South:        Hydrus, Centaurus, Musca, Triangulum Australe, Ara, Pavo, Grus
        West:          Lupus, Scorpius, Ophiuchus, Sagittarius, Aquila, Capricornus
        North:         Cygnus, Delphinus, Pegasus, Andromeda, Aquarius

 

November:

        East:           Taurus, Eridanus, Cetus, Phoenix
        South:        Carina, Musca, Triangulum Australe, Pavo
        West:          Scorpius, Sagittarius, Aquila, Delphinus, Capricornus, Grus, Piscis Austrinus
        North:         Pegasus, Andromeda, Aries, Pisces, Cetus, Aquarius

 

December:

        East:           Taurus, Orion, Canis Major, Puppis, Carina, Eridanus
        South:        Carina, Musca, Pavo
        West:          Capricornus, Aquarius, Grus, Piscis Austrinus, Phoenix
        North:         Pegasus, Andromeda, Aries, Perseus, Cetus

 

 

Observatory Home Page and Index