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 2023 will occur on the following dates:

2023:    January 29;   February 27;   March 29;   April 27;   May 27;    June 26;   July 25;  August 24;   September 23;   October 22;   November 20;   December 20.

 

 

Eclipses in 2023:

 

Lunar:

PENUMBRAL, MAY 6:   The next lunar eclipse visible from Australia will occur on this night, poorly timed to begin at 1:14 am. Maximum eclipse will be at 3:22 am and the eclipse will end at 5:31 am. Sunrise is at 6:15 am and the Moon will set six minutes later. The Earth's umbra is its main shadow, and an umbral eclipse is very spectacular as the Full Moon is "eaten up" as it enters the umbra. On the other hand, the Earth's penumbra is very faint, and a penumbral eclipse of the Moon is not spectacular at all. In fact, it is hardly noticeable, and a casual observer might not even detect that the Full Moon is not as bright as normal. This penumbral eclipse will be visible in the night-time hours in Australia, Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe, but most people will not discern anything out of the ordinary.


PARTIAL, OCTOBER 29:   This eclipse as seen from eastern Australia (east of a line joining Townsville in Queensland to Mount Gambier in South Australia) will be only partial, with no umbral phase, i.e. the Moon will only be partially immersed in the Earth's penumbra. Its timing is also inconvenient for observers in eastern Australia. From Brisbane, on October 28 the Full Moon will rise a little brighter than normal at 4:47 pm (1 hour and 18 minutes before sunset), and will continue to shine as usual until it begins to enter the Earth's penumbra at 4:01 am. This phenomenon may not be noticeable for casual observers as the Moon will be only 11 degrees above the west-north-western horizon.  The Moon will set at 4:53 am, before the eclipse is half-way through.

Observers in Perth with a two-hour time difference will see the penumbral eclipse begin at 2:01 am AWST. The umbral phase will begin at 3:35 am AWST. Mid-eclipse will be at 4:14 am AWST, but only 12.2% of the Moon will be in the Earth's umbra. The Moon will set in Perth at 5:23 am AWST, but the eclipse will not end until 6:26 am AWST. All observers on the night side of the Earth will be able to see this eclipse, but people in England will be able to see it in its entirety from 7:01 pm (their time) to 11:26 pm. However, it is only a partial eclipse and all people who are able to see all of it will still be limited to the sight of only 12.2% of the Moon being in shadow.

The next total eclipse of the Moon visible from the Sunshine Coast will be on September 8, 2025, in the hours before dawn. Here are the circumstances:

Moon enters Earth's penumbra:  1:28 am AEST;    Partial eclipse begins at 2:27 am;    Total eclipse begins at 3:31 am;    Mid-eclipse is at 4:12 am;    Totality ends at 4:53 am;    Partial eclipse ends at 5:56 am;    Eclipse ends at 6:55 am;    Sun rises at 5:54 am;    Moon sets at 5:55 am.


Solar:

TOTAL, APRIL 20:    The path of totality of this "Australian Eclipse" of the Sun begins in the Southern Ocean near the island of Kerguelen. It proceeds north-east and skims the Western Australian coast at North-West Cape. The town of Exmouth on the Exmouth Peninsula will be the best place to view the total phase of the eclipse, which will last only 1 minute and 16 seconds. The short duration is due to the fact that the Moon is only slightly larger in angular size (31' 59.79") than the Sun (31' 50.85") at the appointed time (11:29 am Australian Western Standard Time). When the Moon is near its closest distance from Earth (perigee) on the day of an eclipse, then it looks slightly larger and totality has a longer duration (6 minutes or more). The Moon in April will be at perigee on April 16, and will be heading out to apogee on April 28. This short duration also means that the path of totality will be much narrower, so eclipse-chasers will have to be careful that they are in the right position. Also, craters and valleys at the edge (limb) of the Moon may allow sunlight to shine through even during totality, giving the impression of a circle of brilliant points of light.

The Exmouth Peninsula is the only place in Australia where totality will be experienced. The path of totality then heads north-east over the Timor Sea to Timor-Leste (East Timor) and crosses the Banda Sea to the isthmus that attaches the Vogelkop (Bird's Head) Peninsula to the rest of New Guinea. These are the only places to observe a total eclipse, apart from on cruise ships at sea. Exmouth is predicted to have up to 30% cloud cover, Timor 60%, and New Guinea 80% or worse.

The further away from the path of totality an observer is, the less of the Sun will be covered by the Moon. Observers at towns north-east of Exmouth, such as Onslow, Dampier, Karratha and Port Hedland will see the Sun reduced to a fine sliver of light, but no total eclipse. In Darwin the Moon will cover 84.5% of the Moon at maximum, and in Perth 76.6%. These will be seen as partial eclipses, and every place in Australia will be able to enjoy the spectacle, weather complying. The further away an observer is from the path of totality, the less of the Sun will be eclipses. Here are some examples:  Dili (Timor Leste) - 98%;    Rabaul - 76.5%;    Port Moresby - 67.3%;    Alice Springs - 57.6%;    Cairns - 52.7%;    Jakarta - 49.6%;    Adelaide - 32.4%;    Sunshine Coast (Queensland) - 28.4%;    Brisbane - 27.0%;    Melbourne - 20.5%;    Canberra - 19.2%;    Auckland - 6.5%;    Wellington - 1.1%.

From the Sunshine Coast the partial phase will begin at 1:43 pm, maximum eclipse (28%) will occur at 2:46 pm, and the eclipse will end at 3:44 pm. The duration will be 2 hours 1 minute.

From Brisbane the partial phase will begin at 1:43 pm, maximum eclipse (27%) will occur at 2:44 pm, and the eclipse will end at 3:41 pm. The duration will be 1 hour 58 minutes.

From Melbourne the partial phase will begin at 1:15 pm, maximum eclipse (20%) will occur at 2:09 pm, and the eclipse will end at 3:01 pm. The duration will be 1 hour 46 minutes. These times are Australian Eastern Standard Time.


HOW TO OBSERVE A SOLAR ECLIPSE SAFELY
:   

Do not look directly at the Sun with your naked eye, or through glasses, sun glasses, even very dark sunglasses, or welding goggles.

At no stage of the eclipse (or any other time) should you look at the Sun through a camera, binoculars, telescope or other optical device such as neutral density filters, as the concentrated sunlight may damage them and cause permanent eye injury.

Do not use home-made filters, only special solar filters such as eclipse glasses or approved hand-held solar viewers, to view the eclipse.

Read and follow filter instructions, and supervise children carefully.

Inspect your solar viewer before using it. If it has a scratch or any other damage, even if only minor, discard it.

Pinhole projection is a safe way to view the Sun indirectly: make a pinhole in a piece of white card. Do not look at the Sun through the pinhole but let the Sun shine though the pinhole to make an image on a second piece of white card held a short distance from the first one.  Click  here  for a video.


ANNULAR, OCTOBER 15 (AEST):
   This annular eclipse of the Sun will only be visible from North, Central and South America. The path of totality will strike the US west coast near Salem, Oregon (north of San Francisco) and head south-east, passing near Boise, Idaho, Salt Lake City in Utah, Albuquerque in New Mexico, and Houston, Texas before crossing the Gulf of Mexico. It crosses the Belize Peninsula at Belmopan, then passes through Managua in Nicaragua, San Jose in Costa Rica, Panama City, Bogota in Colombia before entering Brazil. It turns east across the Amazon jungle and reaches the South Atlantic coast in the vicinity of Recife. The eclipse ends before reaching Equatorial Africa.

This eclipse will not be visible from Queensland's Sunshine Coast as it occurs when the Sun is below our horizon.

Observers on Queensland's Sunshine Coast will have a chance to see a total solar eclipse at 12:56 pm on July 22, 2028, the eclipse track running from Wyndham through Alice Springs to Birdsville and then Sydney, before crossing the Tasman Sea to Dunedin in New Zealand's South Island. They will need to travel to the eclipse track. The biggest town close to the Sunshine Coast which will be in the path of totality is Dubbo, easily reached via the Newell Highway. At Dubbo this eclipse of the Sun will last from 12:34 pm until 3:12 pm, and the total phase will last for 3 minutes 51 seconds. There is a 57% chance that the day will not be cloudy.The path of totality will pass over Sydney, which will be a great thrill for the 5.4 million people living there, if it is a clear day (53% chance).

 

 

 

The Planets in 2023: 

 

Mercury:        January 3:                    Perihelion
                                        January 7:                    Inferior co
njunction
                                       
January 18:                  Western stationary point
                                       
January 30:                  Greatest elongation from Sun in morning sky (24 57')                                       
                                        February 16:               
Aphelion
                                        March 17:                    Superior conjunction
                                        April 1:                         Perihelion
                                        April 12:                       Greatest elongation from Sun in evening sky (19
18')
                                        April 21:                       Eastern stationary point
                                        May 2:                          Inferior co
njunction
                                        May 15:                        Aphelion
                                        May 15:                        Western stationary point
 
                          
             May 29:                        Greatest elongation from Sun in morning sky (24
39')
                                        June 28:                       Perihelion
                                        July 1:                          Superior conjunction
                                        August 10:                   Greatest elongation from Sun in evening sky (27
21'
)
                                       
August 11:                   Aphelion
                                       
August 24:                   Eastern stationary point
                                        September 6:              Inferior co
njunction
    
                                    September 16:            Western stationary point
                                        September 22:            Greatest elongation from Sun in morning sky (17 51')
                                        Septem
ber 24:            Perihelion
                                       
October 20:                Superior conjunction
                                        November 7:               Aphelion
                                        December 5:              Greatest elongation from Sun in evening sky (21
10')
                                        December 13:            Eastern stationary point
                                        December 21:            Perihelion
                                        December 23:            Inferior conjunction

The best times for observing Mercury in the evening sky are:  last two weeks of April;  mid-July to late August, mid-November to mid-December.

The best times for observing Mercury in the morning sky are:  mid-January to second week of February, mid-May to third week of June, last two weeks of September, 2024: January to first two weeks in February.   
                                      
                                  


                              
 Venus:                April 18:                       Perihelion
                                       June 5:                        Greatest elongation from Sun in evening sky (45
20')
                                       July 23:                       Eastern stationary point
                                       August 8:                    Aphelion
                                       August 13:                  Inferior conjunction
                                       September 4:             Western stationary point
                                       September 24:           Greatest elongation from Sun in morning sky (46
25'
                                       November 28:            Perihelion
                                       June 5, 2024:             Superior conjunction                                      
                                                                               
From January to the end of July, Venus will be a dominant object in the western twilight sky as an 'Evening Star'. In mid-April it will appear as a little 'gibbous Moon' with a phase of 72% and a diameter of 15 arcseconds. At the beginning of June it will appear like a small 'half-Moon' with a phase of 50%, but its diameter will have increased to 23.5 arcseconds. By the middle of July its phase will have reduced to 20% (like a crescent Moon), but as its angular size will have increased to 42 arcseconds, its brightness will remain unchanged at magnitude -4.6.  Venus will pass through inferior conjunction (between the Earth and the Sun) on August 13, 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 7.5
south of the Sun's limb (edge). In the morning sky, Venus will appear as a crescent during September, and as a 'half-Moon' on October 23. Towards the end of the year it will have shrunk in size and increased in phase until it appears as a tiny 'gibbous Moon'. Venus will become visible in the western evening sky again in August 2024..

                October 2022                        June 2023                             July 2023                         September 2023                     October 2023               

    

.

 

Mars:                     January 13:                   Eastern stationary point         (angular diameter =  13.1")
                                       March 17:                      Eastern quadrature         (angular diameter =  7.2")
                                       May 31:                         Aphelion           (angular diameter =  4.7")
                                       November 18:               Conjunction     (angular diameter =  3.7")
                                       January 16, 2025          Opposition       (angular diameter =  14.5")
                                      

For all of 2023, Mars will be left behind by the Earth, and its angular size will shrink accordingly until it passes behind the Sun (conjunction) on November 18. Mars begins the year in the constellation of Taurus, the Bull. It crosses into Gemini on March 26, Cancer on May 17, Leo on June 20, Virgo on August 18, and Libra on October 24.

 

 

Jupiter:                 April 12:                       Conjunction
                                       
August 7:                     Western quadrature
                                    
    September 4:              Western stationary point
                                       November 3:                Opposition (Jupiter rises in the east-north-east at sunset)
                                       December 31:              Eastern stationary point
                          
            January 27:                  Eastern quadrature
                                       May 19, 2024:              Co
njunction 
                                                                     
The giant planet begins 2023 in the constellation of Pisces, the Fishes. It crosses into a corner of Cetus, the Whale, on February 6, and back into Pisces on February 19. Jupiter enters Aries on May 19, and crosses into Taurus on April28, 2024. On average, Jupiter spends a year in each constellation inturn.

 

 

Saturn:                February 17:                  Conjunction
                                     
May 28:                          Western quadrature
                                      June 18
:                         Western stationary point
                                      August 27:                     Opposition
                                      November 4:                  Eastern stationary point
                                      November 23:                Eastern quadrature
                                      February 29, 2024:        Conjunction
                                  

Saturn begins the year in Capricornus, but crosses into Aquarius on February 23. It remains in Aquarius until April 19, 2025.

 

 

 

Uranus:               January 23:                  Eastern stationary point
                                      February 4:                  Eastern quadrature
                                      May 10:                        Conjunction
                                      August 16:             
      Western quadrature
                                      August 29:                   Western stationary point
                                      November 14:              Opposition
                                      January 27, 2024:        Eastern stationary point
                                      February 8, 2024:        Eastern quadrature

Uranus will spend 2023 in the constellation of Aries, where it will remain until it enters Taurus on May 17, 2024.

 

 

Neptune:            March 16:                    Conjunction
                                       June 19:                       Western quadrature
                                       July 1:                           Western stationary point
                                       September 19:             Opposition
                                       December 6:                Eastern stationary point
                                       December 17:              Eastern quadrature
                                       March 17, 2024:           Conjunction

Neptune begins the year In Aquarius, but crosses into Pisces on March 3. It will remain in Pisces until April 12, 2028.

 

 

Pluto:                     January 19:                 Conjunction
                                  
   April 21:                       Western quadrature
                                      May 2:                          Western stationary point
                                      July 22:                        Opposition
                                      October 11:                 Eastern stationary point
                                      October 21:                 Eastern quadrature
                                      January 20, 2024:       Conjunction

Pluto begins the year in Sagittarius, but crosses into Capricornus on March 1, heading east. It will begin its annual retrograde loop on May 2 and will move westwards back into Sagittarius on July 9, reaching opposition on July 22. It will finish its retrograde loop on October 11 and will cease its westwards motion. Pluto will resume its eastwards motion, and will cross back into Capricornus on January 3, 2024. Pluto will leave Capricornus on March 13, 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

 

 

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