This year's special events in the sky



Sun:   Looking at the Sun either with the unaided eye or through binoculars or telescope is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS!
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 nearly overhead at sunset. First Quarter in 2016 will occur on the following dates:

2016:   January 16;   February 15;   March 16;   April 14;   May 14;   June 12;   July 12;   August 10;   September 9;   October 9;   November 8;   December 7



Eclipses in 2016:


PARTIAL PENUMBRAL, MARCH 23:   This eclipse of the Moon is penumbral - no part of the Moon will pass through the main shadow of the Earth, the umbra, at any stage. In fact, to the casual observer the eclipse will hardly be noticeable at all. The Moon will enter the penumbra at 7:38 pm, the maximum darkening of the Moon will occur at 9:48 pm, and the eclipse will end at 11:58 pm.  At maximum, only 80% of the Moon will be immersed in the penumbra.

PARTIAL PENUMBRAL, SEPTEMBER 17:   This eclipse of the Moon is penumbral - no part of the Moon will pass through the main shadow of the Earth, the umbra, at any stage. In fact, to the casual observer the eclipse will hardly be noticeable at all. The Moon will enter the penumbra at 2:54 am, the maximum darkening of the Moon will occur at 4:55 am, and the eclipse will end at 6:57 am, an hour and two minutes after the Moon has set.  At maximum, 93% of the Moon will be immersed in the very faint penumbra. During this eclipse, the Full Moon will look not quite as bright as usual.



TOTAL, MARCH 9:    The path of totality for this eclipse runs from the mid-Indian Ocean (south of the Bay of Bengal at about the latitude of the Equator), through the Indonesian islands of Sumatra, southern Borneo, Celebes and Halmahera ,and heads north-east towards California. Mid-eclipse will occur in the vicinity of Guam and the Caroline Islands. A partial eclipse will be visible from locations in Australia north of a line joining Busselton in Western Australia through Lake Eyre to Gladstone in Queensland. From Townsville in North Queensland, a partial eclipse will begin at 10:20 am. The maximum phase, when 19% of the Sun will be covered by the Moon, will occur at 11:13 am. The eclipse will end at Townsville at 12:05 pm. No part of the eclipse will be visible from south-east Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria or Tasmania.

ANNULAR, SEPTEMBER 1:    The path of totality for this eclipse runs from the mid-Atlantic Ocean (east of the Amazon estuary in Brazil) to the east across central Africa, then south-east across Tanzania and Madagascar, then across the southern Indian Ocean, ending a few hundred kilometres out at sea, south-west of Perth. Perth and the Western Australian coast north to Karratha will see a partial eclipse in the late afternoon before sunset. No part of the eclipse will be visible from south-east Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria or Tasmania, as the Sun will have set before the eclipse starts. The best site to observe the eclipse will be northern Madagascar.


The Planets in 2016: 


Mercury:        January 26:              Western stationary point
                                    February 7:              Greatest elongation from Sun in morning sky (25.3
                                    March 24:                 Superior conjunction
                                    April 18:                   Greatest elongation from Sun in evening sky (19.4
                                    April 29:                   Eastern stationary point
                                    May 10:                    Inferior co
                                    May 22:                    Western stationary point
                                    June 5:                    Greatest elongation from Sun in morning sky
                                    July 7:                      Superior conjunction
                                    August 17:               Greatest elongation from Sun in evening sky (27.2
                                    August 30:               Eastern stationary point
                                    September 13:        Inferior co
                                    September 22:        Western stationary point
         September 29:        Greatest elongation from Sun in morning sky (17.5
                                    October 28:             Superior conjunction
                                    December 11:         Greatest elongation from Sun in evening sky (20.4
                                    December 19:         Eastern stationary point
                                    December 29:         Inferior co

 Venus:             June 7:                      Superior conjunction
                                   January 13, 2017:    Greatest elongation from Sun in evening sky (47.1


From January to May, Venus will dominate the eastern pre-dawn sky as a 'morning star'. During April it will appear 'Full' - a small circular disc, as it will be on the opposite side of the Sun from us, and therefore fully illuminated. It will pass behind the Sun (superior conjunction) on June 7 and by mid-July will be visible in the western twilight sky as an 'evening star'. By August it will be quite noticeable close to the horizon as twilight fades, and by September it will dominate the western sky as darkness falls. As it overtakes the Earth, Venus will become progressively larger in angular size, but its phase will decrease to gibbous by October, then half phase by the end of the year. It will become a thin crescent in February 2017. The increasing size and reducing phase cancel out any major changes in brightness, so Venus will maintain a brightness of about magnitude -4 all through the year. After inferior conjunction on March 25, 2017, it will move to the eastern pre-dawn sky as a 'morning star' once again.


                       October 2015                          April 2016                            January 2017                         March 2017                          


Mars:                  February 7:              Western quadrature           (angular diameter = 8")
                                    April 17:                    Western stationary point    (angular diameter = 14.1")
                                    May 22:                    Opposition                          (angular diameter = 18.4")
                                    June 30:                   Eastern stationary point     (angular diameter = 16.5")
                                    September 14:         Eastern quadrature            (angular diameter = 9.7")

For all of 2016, Mars will be on our side of its orbit, and will therefore appear to change its angular size dramatically, growing larger until opposition on May 22, and then shrinking. It will appear even smaller all through 2017, reaching conjunction with the Sun on July 27. The next opposition, occurring on July 27, 2018, will be very favourable, as at closest approach to Earth its angular diameter will be 24.2".


Jupiter:            January 8:                 Western stationary point
                                   March 8:                    Opposition (Jupiter rises in the east at sunset)
                                   May 9:                       Eastern stationary point
        June 4:                      Eastern quadrature
                                   September 26:          Co
                                   February 11, 2017:    Western quadrature

The giant planet begins 2016 near the eastern end of Leo, and moves into Virgo on August 8. It will continue to cross Virgo until November 14, 2017.


Saturn:             March 6:                    Western quadrature
25:                  Western stationary point
                                   June 3:                      Opposition
                                   August 13:                 Eastern stationary point
                                   September 2:            Eastern quadrature
                                   December 10:           Conjunction

Saturn spends most of 2016 in the southern part of the non-Zodiacal constellation of Ophiuchus, and will cross into Sagittarius on February 20, 2017.


Uranus:            January 7:                  Eastern quadrature
                                   April 14:                     Conjunction
                                   July 21:                      Western quadrature
                                   August 3:                   Western stationary point
                                   October 20:               Opposition
                                   January 2, 2017:       Eastern stationary point
                                   January 15, 2017:     Eastern quadrature

Uranus spends all of 2016 in the constellation Pisces, and will cross into Aries on April 22, 2018.


Neptune:       February 29:             Conjunction
                                   June 2:                      Western quadrature
                                   June 14:                    Western stationary point
                                   September 5:            Opposition
                                   November 22:           Eastern stationary point
                                   December 3:            Eastern quadrature
                                   March 2, 2017:         Conjunction

Neptune spends the whole of 2016 in Aquarius, near the asterism known as the 'Water Jar'. It will remain in Aquarius until April 21, 2022.


Pluto:                  January 6:                Conjunction
April 7:                     Western quadrature
                                   April 18:                    Western stationary point
                                   July 8:                       Opposition
                                   September 26:         Eastern stationary point
                                   October 8:                Eastern quadrature
                                   January 7, 2017:      Conjunction

Pluto spends all of 2016 in Sagittarius.  It will not move out of this constellation until  March 1, 2023.



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:          



        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



        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



        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



        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



        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



        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



        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



        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



        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



        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



        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



        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


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