Welcome to SkyEye, your guide to this month's celestial events.
|Date||45° N||30° S||Event|
|2||Thu||Last Quarter Moon|
|6||Mon||The waning crescent Moon should not unduly interfere with observations of the Eta Aquariids (theoretical peak activity: about 01:00 UT).|
|10||Fri||The New Moon passes in front of the Sun's disc to create an annular eclipse.|
|11||Sat||Mercury at superior conjunction|
|13||Mon||Moon at apogee|
|18||Sat||First Quarter Moon|
|22||Wed||The Moon occults first-magnitude star Spica: visible from Indonesia, northeastern Australian coast and south Pacific from about 08:45 UT.|
|25||Sat||The Full Moon undergoes a barely detectable penumbral eclipse.|
|26||Sun||Moon at perigee|
|Neptune at west quadrature|
|31||Fri||Last Quarter Moon: the second Full Moon in a month has a special name but what about the other phases?|
Solstice ushers in summer north of the equator and winter in the southern hemisphere.
The word planet is derived from the Greek word for 'wanderer'. Unlike the background stars, planets seem to move around the sky, keeping mostly to a narrow track called the ecliptic, the path of the Sun across the stars. Dwarf planets and small solar-system bodies including comets, are not so constrained, often moving far above or below the ecliptic.
Constellations are patterns of stars in the sky. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) recognises 88 different constellations. The brightest stars as seen from the Earth are easy to spot but do you know their proper names? With a set of binoculars you can look for fainter objects such as nebulae and galaxies or some of the closest stars to the Sun.
Descriptions of the sky for observers in both the northern and southern hemispheres are available for the following times this month. Subtract one hour from your local time if summer (daylight savings) time is in effect.
|Local Time||Northern Hemisphere||Southern Hemisphere|
|1730 hours (1830 hours summer time)||45° N||30° S|
|1930 hours (2030 hours summer time)||45° N||30° S|
|2130 hours (2230 hours summer time)||45° N||30° S|
|2330 hours (0030 hours summer time)||45° N||30° S|
|0130 hours (0230 hours summer time)||45° N||30° S|
|0330 hours (0430 hours summer time)||45° N||30° S|
|0530 hours (0630 hours summer time)||45° N||30° S|
Much of this information can be found in this month's issue of your favourite amateur astronomy magazine available in your local bookshop. Another excellent source is the current edition of the Astronomical Calendar by Guy Ottewell and published by the Universal Workshop.
The SkyEye banner features a false-colour view of the Sun, taken by the Transition Region and Coronal Explorer (TRACE spacecraft). The image shows a moderately active solar corona on 2 August 1999. The blue shows gas at 1 million degrees, the green at 1.5 million degrees and the red at 2 millions degrees. This image is courtesy of the Stanford-Lockheed Institute for Space Research. TRACE is part of the NASA Small Explorer programme.