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Major Meteor Showers 2014

Source BAA Handbook

Shower         Max            Normal Limits    ZHR     Radiant at Max     Age of Moon

Virginids   Apr 11-12           Apr 6-17        5       13h 36m -11d       2d (Apr 12)

Lyrids      Apr 22 17h          Apr 18-25      10       18h 08m +32d       22d

eta Aqr     May 5-6           Apr 24 - May 20  40       22h 20m -01d       6d (May 5)

delta Aqr   Jly 29            Jly 15 - Aug 20  20       22h 36m -17d       2d  (double radiant)

Perseids    Aug 13d 00h       Jly 23 - Aug 20  80+      03h 13m +58d       17d

Orionids    Oct 21-24         Oct 16-30        25       06h 24m +15d       28d

Leonids     Nov 18d 01h       Nov 15-20        20?      10h 08m +22d       25d

Geminids    Dec 14d 07h       Dec 8-17         100+     07h 32m +33d       22d




Monthly Sky Notes.  Frank Hill

Mercury

Towards the end of January the planet Mercury is just above the south western evening sky in the twilight, it lies about 18 degrees from the sun. Ensure the sun is below the horizon if intending to use an optical aid such as binoculars etc, it is easy to accidently bring the sun into the field of view if ‘sweeping’ the horizon before it has set.  This is of more importance when trying to locate the planet in the morning sky as the sun is rising.

The following is a short list of dates when the planet will be visible:
* January 31 in the evening
* March 14 in the morning
* May 25 in the evening
* July 13 in the morning
* September 22 in the evening
* November 2 in the morning

Venus

If you have clear skies and a reasonable south western horizon then you can still observe the planet Venus in the early evening for a few days in January before it disappears below the horizon and then is at conjunction and ‘invisible’ to us. The planet next becomes an early morning spectacle in the pre-dawn sky of early February in the constellation of Scutum.  Look out for the partial occultation of the Moon on the 26th February.  Take care if using an optical aid; the sun will be close by!

Mars

In January Mars is low towards the eastern horizon in the constellation of Virgo, to the north east (about 6 degrees) of the bright star Spica.  The planet is approaching us and is at opposition on the 9th April and reaches its greatest height above the horizon at just over 20 degrees when it is to the south at 01.08 UT.   Telescopic observations under fair to good seeing conditions during this opposition may show the more outstanding features of this enigmatic planet.

 Asteroids Ceres and Vesta

The two asteroids Ceres and Vesta are also lurking nearby in Virgo and may be observed just above the Virgo stars Zeta and Tau at the northern edge of the constellation.

Jupiter

Mighty Jupiter, very well placed for observation in the constellation of Gemini for both naked eye and with any optical aid.  Binoculars will reveal the bright disk of the planet and depending on their size and seeing conditions, a hint of the ‘bands’  plus of course the four Galilean moons – Io, Europa, Ganymede and Calisto.   Jupiter reaches its greatest height above the southern horizon on the 5th January at midnight, with the planet being observable through the night it would be possible (weather permitting!) to observe the full 10 hour rotation period of the planet.  We lose the planet towards the end of February as it drops down to the western horizon, but pick it up again in the constellation of Leo at the end of November as it rises in the east.

Saturn

 Saturn can be found low down in the south eastern sky in the constellation of Libra towards the end of February with the Moon nearby on the 22nd.  Saturn unfortunately remains relatively low in the sky, but reaches its high point on the 4th April in the early hours at around 22 degrees above the southern horizon.  The rings are opening wider and as a result the planet is becoming brighter, if you have the opportunity to view the planet through a telescope at this time you will be rewarded with one of nature’s magnificent views. Look westwards and up to find Spica in Virgo and Mars keeping a red eye on the world!

Uranus

The outer gas giant planet Uranus in Pisces at present will be at its greatest height above the southern horizon, reaching 40 degrees; on the 5th January at about 17.44 UT in the early evening. A difficult object against the background stars but if you locate the stars Mu and Lambda in Pisces and draw an imaginary line between them and scan along this line with binoculars, about half way between the two you should locate a bluish green object; this is Uranus.  If using a telescope have a low power eyepiece in the focuser to maximise your field of view and use the same technique (or press the ‘GoTo’ button!)

Neptune

Neptune Is now close to the horizon in Aquarius and will be a difficult object to try and pick out, however if you want test your skill; locate Delta and Beta Aquari and again draw an imaginary line between them and scan along this line with binoculars, about half way between the two you should locate a bluish object; this is Neptune.  If will be using a telescope, have a low power eyepiece in the focuser to maximise your field of view and use the same technique (or again press the ‘GoTo’ button!)




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