How to see Saturn at its best in 2015

1. The Best Time to See Saturn in Eight Years
That bright ‘star’ rising in the eastern sky after sunset? That’s the planet Saturn, which is making its best appearance in many years and outshines nearly every star in the sky. With dramatically tilted rings this year, pale cloud bands, and a little collection of moons, the planet is nearing its closest approach to Earth on May 22. Here’s what you need to know to enjoy the appearance of the ringed planet in 2015.

2. Two Shadows on the Face of Jupiter
If you are graced with clear skies on the night of May 27-28, then power up your scope and head outside to see shadows from two of Jupiter’s moons transit the face of the big planet. The two moons begin their encounter when the shadow of Ganymede ingresses the face of the planet on May 28 at 0:58 UT. The shadow of speedier Io, the closest moon to Jupiter, ingresses at 2:01 UT, then egresses at 4:18 UT. The shadow of Ganymede egresses at 4:34 UT on the 28th. Shortly before each shadow transit begins, the moons themselves can be seen passing across the face of Jupiter.

3. Observer’s Log: 4 Lovely Globular Clusters
Think all globular clusters look the same? In this ‘Observer’s Log’, I do a side-by-side photographic comparison of four of the brightest globs in the sky and show that, with a little practice, you can see the subtle differences in each of these immense balls of stars.

4. Nebulae in the “Hen’s Chest”
The renowned imager Terry Hancock has emerged from hibernation this spring on a creative tear. He’s returned to imaging the most photogenic regions of the sky where new stars turn cold gas into a majestic glowing tapestry. Terry combined into a short video many of his images of the region around the star Sadr in the constellation Cygnus, the Swan. (The name Sadr means ‘Hen’s Chest’). The rich region of the Milky Way near this star is awash in nebulosity and star clouds. Have a look at the video— and a full panorama of this magnificent part of the Milky Way.

5. A New Astronomy Magazine – First Light
At a recent astronomy conference in New York, I happened across First Light, an excellent new astronomy magazine created by professional European science journalists and designers. The focus of the articles in First Light is international and eclectic, and ranges from interviews with big-name astronomers to equipment reviews to observing tips and sky tours. The magazine is ‘electronic’ only, so you read it on a smartphone, tablet, or computer. The content is greatly enhanced by video, interactive displays, and audio. It’s pretty nifty.

To read the magazine, you download a free app then order a subscription (which is $16/year). You can also try a demo issue. You can learn more about First Light magazine at this link. (I get not a dime for this recommendation… but I’m a happy subscriber to First Light and I think you might enjoy it too).

Wishing you clear skies,

Brian Ventrudo
Publisher, Cosmic Pursuits

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