This year's special events in the sky
at the Sun either with the unaided eye or through binoculars or telescope is EXTREMELY
PERMANENT EYE DAMAGE CAN OCCUR. Click here to find out how to observe the Sun safely.
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:
Western stationary point º º º º º º
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 conjunction
May 22: Western stationary point
June 5: Greatest elongation from Sun in morning sky (23.5
July 7: Superior conjunction
August 17: Greatest elongation from Sun in evening sky (27.2
August 30: Eastern stationary point
September 13: Inferior conjunction
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 conjunction
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")
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
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
Uranus:January 7: Eastern quadrature
Uranus spends all of 2016 in the constellation Pisces, and will cross into Aries on April 22, 2018.
Neptune:February 29: 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
Pluto spends all of 2016 in Sagittarius. It will not move out of this constellation until March 1, 2023.
February 8: Alpha-Centaurids
April 22: Lyrids
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
East:Leo, Crater, Corvus, Hydra, Canis Major, Puppis
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
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
Corona Borealis, Serpens, Ophiuchus, Sagittarius, Libra, Scorpius, Ara,
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
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
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
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
Pisces, Cetus, Eridanus, Phoenix, Piscis Austrinus, Grus, Aquarius,
South: Crux, Musca, Triangulum Australe, Pavo
West: Centaurus, Libra, Serpens, Ophiuchus, Scorpius, Lupus, Ara
North: Lyra, Cygnus, Pegasus, Delphinus, Aquila
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
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
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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