Three comets above 10th magnitude to view!
by John Hlynialuk - March 10/2020

There are several comets to be seen in spring skies and one may even reach a brightness of magnitude 1 if predictions bear out. One BAS member has located the first in the list below, C/2017 T2 PanSTARRS in the sky and there is another C/2019 Y4 ATLAS due to brighten over the next few months, to become the best comet in several years. More details can be found here.

Winter 2019/2020: Only Venus is visible in the evening sky, but check out the morning sky!
by John Hlynialuk

The brightest planet in the sky right now is Venus and it is high in the SW sky as we switch over into 2020. Saturn is passing behind the sun as it transfers over to a morning sky object late in January. It will be joining Jupiter and Mars in February to form a trio of bright planets in the dawn sky.

Venus will be joined by Mercury in late January and mid February but it stays well away from any encounters with the bright evening star -a prominent mag. -4. Venus remains a bright beacon in the SW well past winter 2020 and into late spring. See the Useful links page for finder charts for all these objects.

Look to the dawn sky for planet action (Mars, Jupiter, Saturn) in winter and spring skies. Watch how Mars slips past first Jupiter then Saturn (Mars reaches opposition in Oct. 2020 in evening skies). It will be a special year for Mars watching with Mars at its brightest and closest since 2018. (Fingers crossed for no planet-wide dust storms like last time!) Though still only mag. 1.2, Mars starts out the year being occulted by the Moon Feb. 18, which will occur shortly after sunrise locally. Look for Mars very close to the moon after the pair rises about 4 am. From then on to sunrise Mars gets closer and closer and passes behind the moon about 7:22 a.m. Feb. 18 and reappears about 8:45 a.m. with the sun in the sky. Diagram below shows Mars a sliver away from the bright limb of the moon at 6 a.m. or so.

Blog entries by year