Spectacular Night of Stargazing
Friday 27th July 2018 - what a night to plan a family stargazing event!
- Sunset with Venus
- Total Lunar Eclipse (and blood Moon)
- Mars at Opposition
Sunset with Venus
As the the Sun slowly descends over the Western horizon, you will see what appears to be a bright star slightly south of where the Sun sets. This is not a star, but our sister planet Venus. We can Venus our sister planet as it has a very similar size and mass. From our position on Earth it will be about 127 million kilometres away!
Total Lunar Eclipse
What an exciting event to witness with your own eyes! There will be a total lunar eclipse visible from the UK that starts from Moonrise - about 21:00 depending on where you are in the UK. Here is a rough guide to the event:
- 21:00 Moon will rise as an eclipse
- 21:21 Moon reaches maximum eclipse
- 22:13 Total eclipse ends
- 23:19 Partial eclipse ends
- 00:28 Penumbral phase ends
Moon will rise in the South East and travel Southwards in the sky
Mars at Opposition
Image credit NASA/ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA
Mars will be the closest it has been since 2003 on the night of 27th July - about 35 million miles. What is 35 million miles actually like? To give you an idea, you would need to hop on the motorway to Mars and set the cruise control for 70mph... then drive for about 57 years non-stop... that's how far Mars will be when it is "close".
Mars will be low in the sky but it will be getting brighter and brighter leading up to the event.
Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STScI/NASA/ESA)
Saturn will reach a maximum height of around 13 degrees above the southern horizon. The light travelling from the planet will take about 73 minutes to reach us as Saturn is 1,373 million kilometres away from us on this evening.
NASA, ESA, and A. Simon (GSFC)
Jupiter will be in a more south-westerly position - through a small telescope or binoculars you will also see Io, Ganymede, Callisto and Europa which are the Galilean moons of Jupiter. Interestingly astronomers have just discovered a further 12 moons taking the total to 79!
- If you have a smartphone or tablet, head to https://www.celestron.com/pages/sky-portal-mobile-app# and download the Celestron SkyPortal app. This will help you find the planets in the sky.
- Plan ahead where you are going to be. The planets will be low in the sky so try to head to a dark place away from artificial lights and a good view of the horizon.
- Don't forget to charge your camera before you go
- Take a brew in a flask :-)
- Check the weather to ensure the sky is clear!