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Astronomy events in Tanzania for 2015: Eclipses, Meteors, Planets and

Moon
By Dr N T Jiwaji
Open University of Tanzania, Dept. of Physical Sciences
noorali.jiwaji@out.ac.tz, ntjiwaji@yahoo.com

The Horsehead Nebula in Orion, a birthplace of new solar stars and planets

The following is a summary of interesting astronomical events during this year 2015 that
can be observed by the public without the need of a telescope.

The events are described for positions in the sky and the times for viewers in
Tanzania, or East Africa. You may read about some of these events in international
media but some of these are not seen from Tanzania and the timings can be
different.
The events are chronologically arranged by dates that they occur.

A partial eclipse in progress near the horizon

Eclipses:
Glossary:
Solar eclipses occur when our view of the Sun is blocked by the Moon during
the daytime causing a small shadow of Moon to fall on Earth. The Moon is in
between the Earth and the Sun.
Lunar eclipses occur when the large shadow of Earth falls on the Moon. The
Earth is in between the Sun and the Moon.
Total eclipses occur when the shadow is dark, called umbra.
Partial eclipses occur when the shadow is not completely dark (called
penumbra) since some light falls in the shadow area.
Exciting Note: Next year 2016, an annular solar eclipse passes through a 100
kilometer path across southern Tanzania on Sept 1, 2016. The whole of Tanzania
will experience nearly 90 percent of the Sun being covered.

Total Solar Eclipse, 20 Mar, North Pole, None visible in Tanzania


Total Lunar Eclipse, 04 Apr, Pacific Ocean, None visible in Tanzania
Partial Solar Eclipse, 13 Sep, South Pole, None visible in Tanzania
Total Lunar Eclipse, 28 Sep, Atlantic Ocean, Partial eclipse visible in Tanzania

A meteor shower in progress in dark rural skies after midnight to before sunrise

Meteor Showers:
Glossary:

Meteors are light streaks in the night sky that look like a shooting star. The
light is emitted by burning in the atmosphere of tiny dust grains from coming
from space. Sometimes larger particles can strike the atmosphere and the light
glows much more brightly or even explodes known as bolides.
Meteor showers are formed when high concentrations of dust from past
comets trails and asteroids strike Earth at the same time causing many meteors
in a short period.

Quadrantid, Weak, North, Jan 3-4, Big Dipper, Moon too bright
Lyrids, Weak, North, Apr 22-23, Cygnus, Vega(Alpha Lyrae) Moon too bright
Eta Aquarids, Strong-60 met/hr, Equator, May 5-6, Aquarius, no Moon so
meteors can be detected
Delta Aquarids, Weak, near Equator, Jul 28-29, Fomalhaut-pegasus square,
Moon too bright
Perseids, Strong- 60 met/hr, North, Aug 12-13, Perseus, No Moon so meteors
can be detected
Draconids, Weak North Oct 8-9, Little Dipper, Moon too bright
Orinids, Weak, Equator, Oct 21-22, Orion, Moon sets early so meteors can be
detected, (additional - Venus-Jupiter-Mars in morning sky)
Taurids, Weak, Equator, Nov 5-6, Taurus, Quarter Moon too bright in morning
sky
Leonids, Ok, Equator, Nov 17-18, Leo, Quarter Moon sets early so meteors
can be detected
Geminids, VeryStrong-120 met/hr, Equator, Dec 13-14, Gemini, Crescent
Moon sets early so meteors can be detected
Ursida, Weak, North, Dec 22-23, Little Dipper, Moon too bright

Venus (above) and Mercury (below) close together

Venus (above) and Mercury (below) close together low in western horizon soon after sunset 10 to 20 January 2

Planets:
Glossary:
Planet opposition occurs when the full face of the planet is lit by sunlight with
the planet on one side (east side) of Earth while the Sun is on the opposite side
(west). So a brightly shining planet rises from the east at sunset.
Close approach of planets in the night sky occurs when their lines of sight as
viewed from Earth are separated by very small angles. Hence though they
appear to be close to each other in the night sky, it does not mean that they are
actually close to each other in space. All planets are separated by millions of
kilometers of space in their orbits around the Sun.

VENUS and MERCURY close, Jan 10, they will be seen close together 20
degrees above the west horizon just after sunset. Start watching from now up
to mid-January as Mercury approaches Venus from below and comes closest
on Jan 10 within one degree and then moves down again away from Venus.
Mercury is a faint point and can be a challenge to detect, while Venus will be
bright. Venus will continue to rise in the sky in the following months rising to
40 degrees in June and then quickly coming down to the horizon by August.
JUPITER at opposition, Feb 7, brilliantly bright Jupiter will be seen rising in the
east just as the sun sets in the west. It will remain in the evening night sky for
the next six months moving gradually westwards.
VENUS and MARS close, Feb 21, they will be seen close together 20 degrees
above the west horizon just after sunset. Start watching from mid-February
up to the end of February as first Venus approaches Mars from below and
comes closest on Feb 21 within half a degree and then moves up away from
Mars. Mars is a tiny red point while Venus will be very bright yellow.
Uranus and VENUS close, Mar 4, though Uranus cannot be seen easily since it
is very faint, it can be seen with naked eyes only in darkest skies since it is
just at the limit of naked eye visibility. However this is an excellent
opportunity for telescope observation of the planet (even through small
telescopes) since it can be located within a tenth of a degree from Venus on
Mar 4 so it can be easy to catch even in a small telescope. The pair will be 30
degrees above the horizon at sunset with Uranus approaching Venus from
above coming closest to Venus within a tenth of a degree on Mar 4 and
passing below on following days.
Uranus and MARS close, Mar 11, presents another opportunity to locate the
faint Uranus through even a small telescope when it comes closest to Mars to
within half a degree. Mars is a faint red star and can be identified among the
other stars.

SATURN at opposition, May 24, sharply shining Saturn will be seen rising in
the east just as the sun sets in the west. It will remain in the evening night
sky for the next six months moving gradually westwards.
JUPITER and VENUS close, Jun 30, two brilliant planets will shine as bright
stars in the evening sky close together 40 degrees above the in the west
soon after sunset. Start watching from mid-June to mid-July as Jupiter
approaches Venus from above and comes closest on June 30 within half a
degree and then moves down away from Venus. This will be an extremely
noticeable event since many people will see two extremely bright objects
close in the sky for more than a month.
JUPITER and MERCURY close, Aug 7, seen 15 degrees above the western
horizon at sunset, with Venus 10 degrees to the left below the Jupiter-Mercury
pair.
JUPITER and MARS close, Oct 18 they will be seen close together 30 degrees
above the east horizon just before sunrise. Start watching from beginning of
October to mid-October Jupiter first approaches Mars from below and comes
closest on Oct 18 within quarter of a degree and then moves up away from
Mars. Mars is a tiny red point while Jupiter will be very bright white.
JUPITER and VENUS close, Oct 26, two extremely brilliant stars, Venus and
Jupiter will be seen close together 40 degrees above the east horizon just
before sunrise. Before sunrise they will be seen closer to the east horizon.
Start watching from mid-October up to the end of October as first Jupiter
approaches Venus from below and comes closest on Oct 26 within half a
degree and then moves up away from Venus. This will be an extremely
noticeable event especially for early rises since they will be seeing two
extremely bright objects in the sky for almost the whole of October.
VENUS and MARS close, Nov 3, they will be seen close together 45 degrees
above the east horizon just before sunrise. They will come closest to within
half a degree as Mars approaches Venus from below and then moves up away
from Venus.
VENUS and SATURN close, Jan 9 2016. They will be seen 35 degrees above
the western horizon at sunset and will come closest to each other within a
tenth of a degree.

Jupiter close to Moon April 26 2015 early evening to midnight

Moon:
Glossary:
Full Moon occurs when Moon is on one side (east) of Earth while Sun is on the
opposite (west) side. Hence sunlight is striking the Moon full face and the full
bright circle of Moon is seen in the east from sunset onwards.
New Moon occurs when Moon is viewed with Sun directly behind it hence dark
(night) side of Moon is facing us and dark face is in the west horizon at sunset.
Crescent Moon occurs immediately after New Moon once some sunlight is able
to strike the Moon but we see only a thin part of the lower side of the Moon.
Crescent Moon are seen low in the west horizon at sunset or low in the east
horizon at sunrise.
Half Moon occurs when we see the Moon as a half circle and is . It is actually
called First Quarter or Last Quarter since it occurs during first or last quarter
of the Moons cycle around Earth.
Gibbous Moon is shaped like an oval and occurs between half Moon and Full
Moon.

Full Moon, Jan 5


New Moon, Jan 20
Crescent Moon close to MERCURY Jan 21, will be seen 12 degrees above the
western horizon at sunset with Moon 2 degrees below Mercury.
Crescent Moon close to VENUS and MARS Jan 22, will be seen 25 degrees
above the western horizon at sunset with Moon in between Mars above and
Venus below 10 degrees apart.
Crescent Moon close to MARS Jan 23, will be seen 40 degrees above the
western horizon at sunset with Moon 2 degrees above Mars.
Full Moon, Feb 4
Full Moon close to JUPITER Feb 4, will be seen rising in the east horizon soon
after sunset and will be visible throughout the night, slowly shifting
westwards through the night
New Moon, Feb 19
Crescent Moon close to VENUS-MARS pair, Feb 20, will be seen 20 degrees
above the western horizon at sunset with the planet pair 5 degrees above
crescent Venus. The trio will slowly drop lower through the night and set after
about an hour.
Almost full Moon close to JUPITER, Mar 3, will be seen rising above the east
horizon at sunset and the pair will be seen slowly shifting westwards through
the night.
Full Moon, Mar 5
New Moon, Mar 20
Crescent Moon between Venus and Mars, Mar 22, seen at 25 degrees above
the western horizon at sunset, with Venus 5 degrees above and Mars 10

degrees below the crescent Moon. The trio will slowly drop lower through the
night and set after a couple of hours.
Half Moon close to JUPITER, Mar 30, will be seen near the zenith from sunset,
shifting westwards through the night.
Full Moon, Apr 4
New Moon, Apr 18
Crescent Moon close to VENUS, Apr 21, will be seen 35 degrees above the
western horizon at sunset with Venus 10 degrees to the right of crescent
Moon. The pair will slowly drop lower through the night and set after a few
hours.
Half Moon close to JUPITER, Apr 26, will be seen near zenith 5 degrees apart
with the pair shifting westwards through the night and set below the western
horizon soon after midnight.
Full Moon, May 4
New Moon, May 18
Crescent Moon close to VENUS, May 21, seen 40 degrees above the western
horizon at sunset. The pair will slowly drop lower through the night and set
after a few hours.
Half Moon close to JUPITER, May 23, 24 seen close to zenith overhead about
10 degrees apart. They will shift slowly westwards and set before midnight.
Full Moon close to SATURN, Jun 1, with the pair rising above the eastern
horizon at sunset. They are 2 degrees apart and shift westwards throughout
the night.
Full Moon, Jun 2
New Moon, Jun 16
Crescent Moon between JUPITER-VENUS pair, Jun 20, seen 45 degrees above
western horizon at sunset, with Moon 5 degrees apart from the planet pair.
The trio will slowly drop lower through the night and set after a few hours.
Almost full Moon and SATURN close, Jun 28, seen half way up the eastern sky
at sunset with the pair 5 degrees apart and shifting slowly westwards through
the night.
Crescent Moon close to VENUS-JUPITER pair, Jul 18, seen 30 degrees above
the western horizon at sunset forming a triangle 5 degrees apart. The trio
drops slowly, and sets below the horizon after a couple of hours.
Gibbous (oval) Moon close to SATURN, July 26, near zenith 65 degrees above
eastern horizon at sunset. The pair shifts slowly westwards and sets after
midnight.
Full Moon, Jul 31
New Moon, Aug 14
Half Moon and SATURN close, Aug 22, seen close to zenith overhead two
degrees apart. The pair shifts slowly westwards through the night setting
close to midnight.
Full Moon, Aug 29
New Moon, Sep 13

Half Moon and SATURN close, Sep 19, seen close to zenith overhead two
degrees apart. The pair shifts slowly westwards through the night setting
close to midnight.
Full Moon, Sep 28
New Moon, Oct 13
Crescent Moon and SATURN close, Oct 16, seen 40 degrees above western
horizon at sunset 2 degrees apart. The pair sets slowly below the western
horizon after a few hours.
Full Moon, Oct 27
New Moon, Nov 11
Crescent Moon and SATURN close, Nov 13, seen 20 degrees above western
horizon at sunset with crescent 5 degrees above Saturn. The pair sets after
an hour.
Full Moon, Nov 26
New Moon, Dec 11
Full Moon, Dec 25
New Moon, Jan 10 2016

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