The Newgrange Library

THE STARDIAL -- MONTHLY CALENDAR OF EVENTS FOR
1997. (INCLUDES Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Nov. Dec.)
Compiled from various resources by Jehana Silverwing.


The February 1997 StarDial

Some celestial events for February 1997:

New Moon: 10:06 am EST Feb 7th.
Full Moon: 5:27 am EST Feb 22nd.

Comet Hale-Bopp:
During the month of February, the comet will be following the
Star River (the Milky Way), travelling northerly. Dedicated
viewers can arise 3 hours before the sun early this month, or 4
hours earlier than the sun later in the month. The comet should
grow brighter as the month progresses, and into March. (Our
intrepid explorers, Searles and Trailstalker, will probably
stay up all night to see the comet for us, since they stay up all
night anyway...) March and April should bring more optimal
viewing habits to viewers from the Northern hemisphere. Watch the
eastern sky for the comet. It will start the month in the
constellation Saggita, progress to Vulpecula, and then into the
constellation of Cygnus. The moon will interfere with viewing
from about the 20th to the end of the month. This only counts if
you are in the Northern hemisphere. If you are in the Southern
hemisphere, you needs must wait until May to see the comet as it
leaves our solar system.

On the evening of Feb. 10th, you'll find the moon just above
Saturn in the west-southwestern skies.

Oh, and while you are hunting for the comet the morning of
Feb. 5th, you may see, in the southeastly skies, 20 minutes
before sunrise, Jupiter and Venus in close approximation, with
Mercury slightly higher and to the right, and a fingernail moon
hovering again slightly above Mercury.

Happy starhunting! -- Jehana.


The March 1997 StarDial

March 6: The Moon is found 5 degrees north of Jupiter, 9 am, EST.

March 8: New Moon at 8:15 pm, EST, Total Solar Eclipse viewable in the
region of Mongolia.

March 10: Moon passes 1.4 degrees north of Saturn at 4 am, EST.

March 20: Spring Equinox, at 8:55 AM, EDT.
Mars is as close to Earth as it will be for approximately the
next two years -- 99 million kilometers.

March 22: Comet Hale-Bopp passes as close to Earth as it will get -- 197
million kilometers. Hale-Bopp should be visible in the north-northwest skies
in the evening after dark during this month.

March 23: Full Moon, 11:45 pm, EST.
Partial lunar eclipse over much of North America.
Moon passes 4 degrees south of Mars at 9 am, EST.


The April 1997 StarDial

April 1: Comet Hale-Bopp reaches Perihelion (the point in its orbit at which it is closest
to the Sun.)

Evening viewing of Hale-Bopp will remain good for at least a couple more weeks,
even though the comet will be leaving the Sun behind, and beginning its travels
to more distant reaches of the solar system. The Moon will be cooperating, by
being visible in morning hours rather than in the evening

April 3rd: The Moon passes 4 degrees north of Jupiter at 3 AM, EST.

April 6th: Your clocks "spring ahead", and you lose an hour of sleep (most of North America).

April 7th: New Moon, at 7:02 AM, EDT.
Moon occults Saturn.
Moon occults Venus.

April 12: International Astronomy Day

April 19: The Moon passes 4 degrees south of Mars, 2 AM, EDT.

April 20-22 Peak of the Lyrids meteor shower. They are
seen as if coming from the constellation Lyra, to the northeast, especially
after midnight. This is not one of the best meteor showers, and it has to
compete with the light of the waxing moon

April 22 Earth Day
Full Moon at 4:33 PM, EDT


The May 1997 StarDial

Most of May: Comet Hale-Bopp may be found in the region of
Taurus, lower over the horizon, in the west-northwestern skies of early night.
It may well begin to grow fainter, and by the end of the month it is possible
that viewing might only be possible with binoculars. However, this is unknown.
As the comet gets closer to the horizon, and viewing time after sunset is
diminished, other factors besides apparent magnitude
come into play which will make it harder to view

Through May, Mars will still be bright and visible in the evening skies, setting at some
point after midnight. It should be visible in the southeastern skies,
near Leo, but it will likewise grow dimmer as the month progresses

May 4th: Peak of the Eta Aquarid meteor shower.
These will be seen as coming from the
vicinity of the constellation of Aquarius, which will be east-southeast in the
early morning hours. These particular meteors are leftover rocks and particles
from Halley's comet as our planet crosses that area of space, and they burn up
in our atmosphere. Some may be seen as well during the period between
April 18th and May 28th.
Also on May 4th, the Moon will occlude Saturn, but this will happen in daylight
hours. However, about 45 minutes before sunrise, one might be able to see the
crescent moon rise in the eastern skies close to Saturn (the latter towards
the left

May 6th: New Moon at 4:46 pm, EDT.

May 19th: Venus passes 6 degrees north of the star Aldebaran, at 4 am, EDT

May 22nd: Full Moon at 5:13 am, EDT.

May 28th: The Moon passes 4 degrees north of Jupiter, 2 AM, EDT.

May 31st: The Moon passes 5 degrees north of Saturn, 11 pm, EDT.


November, 1997

November 3:
The moon passes 6 north of Mars at midnight, Eastern Standard
Time (EST).
Taurids meteor shower peaks. These are not as spectacular as
the Leonid showers later in the month.

November 4:
The moon passes 9 north of Venus at 6 a.m. EST

November 7:
The moon passes 4 north of Jupiter at 3 p.m. EST
First quarter moon occurs at 4:43 p.m. EST

November 10:
A "triple shadow transit" of Jupiter will occur, by its moons
Callisto, Ganymede, and then Io, as they cross over the surface of the
giant planet. (You will require a telescope to watch this.) 10:34 pm and
until Jupiter sets, all three shadows should be visible at the same time.

November 11:
The moon passes 0.4 north of Saturn at 8 p.m. EST. In
many/most US locations, the moon will partially occlude Saturn.

November 13:
Mercury passes 2 north of Antares at 11 p.m. EST

November 14:
Full moon is at 9:12 a.m. EST

November 17:
Leonid meteor shower peaks
This meteor shower is associated with the comet
P/Tempel-Tuttle, and should give a good showing this year (its peak of
meteors in recent years is predicted to fall in 1998). The moon may
interfere somehat with viewing this year.

Last quarter moon is at 6:58 p.m. EST

November 29:
Dark moon is at 9:14 p.m. EST

November 30:
From a half hour to an hour after sunset, east coast viewers
may see a very young crescent moon, a very tenuous crescent which will set
about an hour after the sun. For this to be visible, the western skies
must be very clear.

In the evenings of late November, you will find Mercury in the southwest,
along the horizon.

Jupiter will spend the month waiting for viewers in the southern evening
skies. Saturn will be hanging out in Pisces, easily the brightest object in
that region of space.

Comets of November 1997 (not that you'll be able to see any of 'em):
Nov 01 - Comet P/1997 T3 Perihelion (3.767 Astronomical Units)
Nov 01 - Comet Johnson Perihelion (2.308 AU)
Nov 01 - Comet Neujmin 2 Perihelion (1.274 AU)
Nov 10 - Comet Helin-Roman-Alu 2 Perihelion (1.910 AU)
Nov 14 - Comet duToit-Hartley Perihelion (1.201 AU)
Nov 15 - Comet C/1997 A1 (NEAT) Closest Approach to Earth (2.714 AU)
Nov 19 - Comet Russell 3 Perihelion (2.510 AU)
Nov 20 - Comet Shoemaker-Holt 1 Perihelion (3.05 AU)
Nov 22 - Comet Mueller 2 reaches perihelion (2.412 AU)
Nov 22 - Comet Tsuchinshan 1 Closest Approach to Earth (1.223 AU)
Nov 27 - Comet Shoemaker-Holt 1 Closest Approach to Earth (2.0632 AU)
I just tossed this in to demonstrate that comets are more common
than we think...


*** WELCOME TO THE DECEMBER 1997 STARDIAL ***


Dec. 2: The Moon passes 5 north of Mars, at midnight EST
(Eastern Standard Time)

Dec. 3: The Moon passes 7 north of Venus at noon EST
(This date also marks your Brugh-mistress' birthday...)

Dec. 5: The Moon passes 3 north of Jupiter at 3 a.m. EST

Dec. 7: First quarter of the waxing Moon is at 1:09 a.m. EST
Spacecraft Galileo, sent to explore Jupiter, is scheduled to
end this primary mission on this date.

Dec. 8: Galileo is scheduled to begin its Europa mission. (Europa is one
of the larger and more fascinating moons of Jupiter. Not that any of them
are without interest.)

Dec. 9: The Moon occults Saturn, visible from most of
North America, at 2 a.m. EST
The moon is at perigee (229,208 miles from Earth), 11:55 a.m. EST

Dec. 11: Venus is at its greatest brilliancy (-4.7 Magnitude) at 6 pm, EST.
You'll see it in the western skies.

Dec. 12/13: The Moon passes 0.5 north of Aldebaran, in occultation,
midnight EST of the twelfth, leading into the thirteenth. Aldebaran is a
major star in the constellation Taurus.

Dec 12: Galileo will perform a Europa 12 flyby, presumably taking pictures
and other recordings.

Dec 13: The Full Moon is at 9:37 p.m. EST
Geminids Meteor Shower peaks this night, which, due to the full moon,
may not make them prime viewing time. However, the showers will be visible
from the 7th to the 17th. These showers appear to come out of the constellation
Gemini, in the southeast. Best viewing time for meteor showers tends to be
the early morning hours, although some meteors can be seen earlier in the
night.

Dec. 16: Mars Passes 1.6 Degrees South of Neptune.
The science fiction writer and science popularizer, Arthur C. Clarke,
celebrates his 80th birthday on this date.

Dec. 21: Winter solstice is at 3:07 p.m. EST. This signifies the time
where the Sun is at its farthest point south of the celestial equator, and
the North Pole is angled away from it. The result is that this is the
date of the longest night/shortest day (in the Northern Hemisphere).
The last quarter Moon falls at 4:43 p.m. EST
The Moon is at apogee (251,197 miles from Earth), 6:25 p.m. EST

Dec. 22: The Ursids Meteor Showers peak. These showers are not as dramatic
as the earlier Geminids.
Venus passes 1.1 north of Mars, 6 a.m. EST.

Dec. 25: Venus is stationary, 9 a.m. EST

Dec. 27: The Moon passes 2 north of Mercury, 10 p.m. EST

Dec. 29: The Dark Moon is at 11:56 a.m. EST

Dec. 31: The Moon passes 1.3 north of Venus, 8 a.m. EST, in eastern skies.
The Moon passes 4 north of Mars, 10 p.m. EST.

Jupiter will spend the month in the western skies, prominant after twilight
settles into night.


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