VERY CAREFUL NOT TO OBSERVE SUN DIRECTLY!
INSTANT BLINDNESS CAN OCCUR!!!
Instruments can explode!!! Cease viewing before Sun actually rises if you're using binoculars or telescope!!!
Shadow silhouette of Curiosity Rover vehicle just after landing on target in Gale Crater on Mars late Sunday evening PDEarthT, Sunday, August 5th, 2012. Major kudos to the NASA/JPL Curiosity Flight Team! Now the real work begins to explore the planet for habitability and possible current life!
PLANET and SKY INFORMATION: (updated March 28th, ll2014)
Major Sky Events upcoming: Total Lunar Eclipse late night of Monday, April 14th, visible from western USA. No need for optical protection as you're not viewing the Sun at all, but rather, Earth's shadow on our Moon. From Eugene, the eclipse starts in mid evening, reaches totality near midnight, and concludes in wee hours. Moon may turn shade of orange or red depending on conditions of Earth's atmosphere. There will be a public viewing party at College Hill Reservoir (Lincoln-Lawrence-23rd-26th Aves) in south hills near downtown Eugene, conducted by Eugene Astronomical Society. Actually no need for telescopes or any instruments, this is best viewed with unaided eye, but EAS will have some scopes available to view Planets and Deep Sky objects as sky darkness permits (this event of course is weather dependent, we'll need clear skies!).
New Meteor Shower, possible Meteor "storm", evening of Saturday, May 24th: Several experts on Meteor Showers have discovered the possibility of a new shower that may be intense, as Earth passes through the debris stream recently left by Comet 209P/LINEAR. This small comet will pass fairly close to Earth but will be almost impossible to view as the comet is so small and faint. But, calculations indicate that the dust given off by the sublimating comet and spreading ahead and behind, will intersect with Earth's orbit the night of May 24th, thus potentially causing a meteor shower. The intensity and duration is very difficult to predict, there may be nothing visible, or, there may be hundreds of meteors/hour, you'll just have to go out and see. Go to a safe dark sky site, where you can see a lot of the sky. The radiant point is near Polaris, but meteors can appear anywhere across the entire sky. You don't need any optical aid. Eugene Astronomical Society will likely again have a public event at College Hill Reservoir, weather permitting. There is more information in the May issue of Sky & Telescope Magazine, also in Astronomy Magazine, and online.
Planet Parade: Mercury is in pre dawn eastern sky, very low, be careful not to view Sun!
Venus rises in east around 630 AM just ahead of sunrise.
Mars rises in east around 930 PM and earlier each night as we begin to overtake the Red Planet in our orbits around the Sun. We'll have Mars at Opposition in a few more weeks, Mars will be visible all night.
Jupiter rules the evening sky, very bright whitish dot high overhead as sky darkens, and sets by late evening now.
Saturn rises in east by 1130 PM, and will rise earlier each night, becoming visible in mid evening in another month.
Uranus and Neptune are opposite the Sun from where we are, so won't be readily visible until late Summer/Fall.
The constellations of Winter dominate the early evening sky: Auriga, Taurus, Gemini, Orion, and Canis Major with brilliant star Sirius, and Canis Minor. You can trace the Winter Circle of bright stars: Capella (Auriga), Aldebaran (Taurus), Sirius (Canis Major), Rigel and Betelgeuse (Orion), Procyon (Canis Minor), and Pollux and Castor (Gemini), as we view outward into the Perseus spiral arm of our Galaxy as we sit in the Orion Spur of that arm. The relative proximity of those stars (even though light years away), along with most of them being Giant class stars, makes them appear bright.
The Big Dipper starts the evening in the NE sky with its handle pointing downward, then wheels across the northern sky to set in the NW before sunrise with its handle now pointing somewhat upward, the arc of the 3 handle stars takes you to the bright orangy star, Arcturus, a harbinger of Spring.
By later in the evening the stars of Spring are visible in the eastern sky: Leo the Lion anchored by the star, Regulus at the base of the question mark head and front torso, and Denebola at the tail. Antares, the red supergiant in Scorpius, rises later in the morning, and the ice cream cone shaped constellation, Bootes, anchored by brilliant orange Arcturus, rises in the east by the wee hours.
Predawn brings the Summer Triangle into view (Vega, Deneb, Altair).