Celestial Events

Solar eclipse from New Zealand

Extreme Eclipse-Chasing

To enjoy the annular eclipse of the Sun on February 7, 2008, you either had to be an Antarctic penguin or a very dedicated and well-prepared traveler.

In daylight on June 18, 2007, Alan C. Tough in Scotland took this shot of Venus just before it was occulted by the dark limb of a thin waxing Moon. The Moon was much thicker (15% illuminated) and farther from the Sun than it will be on March 5th. Tough used a Canon EOS 300D camera with a 600-mm lens. Exposure: 1/320th second,  f/6.3, ISO 100.

Moon Covers Venus on Wednesday

A special event occurs on March 5th — in broad daylight. If you're in the central or western US, you can use a wide-field scope to try to see Venus disappearing behind the thin waning Moon.


S&T’s Star-count Challenge!

How bad is the light pollution where you live? How many stars can you see on a dark night? Last year the GLOBE at Night project tallied 8,500 star-counting estimates from around the world. That's great — but we can do better! All it'll take is 30 minutes and a clear evening between now and…

The yellow line shows the most likely path of the occultation, but the uncertainty in the asteroid's position is quite large. So the event could actually happen anywhere within the shaded area. And there's even a one-in-three chance that it will fall outside (though fairly near to) the shaded area.

Watch a Bright Star Wink Off and On

It's extremely unusual for a star that's visible to the unaided eye to be momentarily blotted out by a chunk of rock flying through outer space. But that's what's going to happen early on the morning of Thursday, April 17th, over the most densely populated section of the United States.

The bright dot at upper right is Mercury, shining at magnitude -0.3 to the upper right of the 1½-day-old Moon on March 11, 2005. North Americans witness a nearly identical scene at dusk on May 6, 2008, except that Mercury will be to the Moon's lower left.

This photo is cropped from a much larger image that's available on the photographer's website.

Catch Mercury at Its Best

Mercury is normally elusive, but it's putting on an extraordinarily good evening show for observers at mid-northern latitudes from late April through mid-May 2008.


Mars Meets the Beehive

The Red Planet travels through one of the biggest and brightest star clusters in the sky from May 21st to the 24th. As a warm-up, stargazers watched Mars pass a hair's-breadth north of 5th-magnitude Eta Cancri on the evening of May 19th in easternmost America and the morning of the 20th in western Europe.

When Stan Richard took this photo in April, 2006, the Moon's bright and dark portions were almost opposite from what they will be on September 19-20, 2008. Click above for a larger image.

Moon Crosses the Pleiades

On Friday night, September 19–20, observers in northeastern North America, eastern Canada, and western Europe have a fine chance to watch the Moon cover up stars in the Pleiades.