Night skies in Spain
Axarquia, Costa del Sol, Andalucia, Spain

NIGHT SKIES

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Constellations - General Constellations - Index Deep Sky Objects Eclipses
Elongations Equinoxes Glossary Messier Objects
Meteors Moon Observation Tips Oppositions
Perihelion & Aphelion Planetary Motions Planets & Observing Precession
Retrograde & Stationary Seasons Solstices Stars
Summer/Winter Time Telescopes Telescopic Components Transits
 
Other Events
EQUINOXES
2012

Spring equinox (when the Sun crosses the equator into the northern hemisphere): March 20th
Autumn equinox (when the Sun crosses the equator into the southern hemisphere): September 22nd
2011
Spring equinox: March 20th
Autumn equinox: September 23rd
2010
Spring equinox: March 20th
Autumn equinox: September 23rd
2009
Spring equinox: March 20th
Autumn equinox: September 22nd
2008
Spring equinox: March 20th
Autumn equinox: September 22nd
2007
Spring equinox: March 21st
Autumn equinox: September 23rd
2006
Spring equinox: March 20th
Autumn equinox: September 23rd
SOLSTICES
2012

Summer solstice (when the Sun reaches its most northerly point over the Tropic of Cancer): June 20th
Winter solstice (when the Sun reaches its most southerly point over the Tropic of Capricorn): December 21st
2011
Summer solstice: June 21st
Winter solstice: December 22nd
2010
Summer solstice: June 21st
Winter solstice: December 21st
2009
Summer solstice: June 21st
Winter solstice: December 21st
2008
Summer solstice: June 20th
Winter solstice: December 21st
2007
Summer solstice: June 21st
Winter solstice: December 22nd
2006
Summer solstice: June 21st
Winter solstice: December 21st
PERIHELION & APHELION
2012

The Earth is at perihelion (147 million kilometres / 91.3 million miles - its closest to the Sun) on the 5th January.
The Earth is at aphelion (152 million kilometres / 94.5 million miles – its furthest from the Sun) on the 5th July.
2011
Perihelion: 3rd January
Aphelion: 4th July
2010
Perihelion: 3rd January
Aphelion: 6th July
2009
Perihelion: 4th January
Aphelion: 4th July
2008
Perihelion: 2nd January
Aphelion: 4th July
2007
Perihelion: 3rd January
Aphelion: 7th July
2006
Perihelion: 4th January
Aphelion: 3rd July
SUMMER / WINTER TIME
Spanish and British summer time begins on March 25th 2012.

Spanish and British winter time begins on October 28th 2012.

Note: Spanish summer time is 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time and British summer time is 1 hour ahead of GMT.
Spanish winter time is 1 hour ahead of GMT and British winter time equals GMT.

PRECESSION
Earth moves on its axis with a wobbling motion like a spinning top, the axis tilted away from the vertical by 23 1/2. Whereas the axis of a top takes only a few seconds to complete its reeling movement, the period for Earth is 25,800 years.

This movement causes slow changes in which constellations make up the zodiac. Astronomers use the real time zodiac, whereas astrologers use the zodiac of 2,000 years ago. After 2,000 years, the first point of Aries is actually in Pisces. So, for example, when an astrologer says the Sun or a planet is in Aquarius it will physically be against the background of the preceeding constellation Capricorn.

 

Solar system
From left to right (sun to outer solar system), the objects represented are: Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto.

The added bonus of the clear skies here in Axarquia is that, along with the daily blue sky and sunshine, we have a clear view of the night sky and planets.

With the aid of a simple pair of binoculars, there are wonderful close-ups of the moon. Whilst, through a modest telescope, we are able to see the moons of Jupiter, the rings around Saturn, the phases of Venus and transits of Venus and Mercury. I am constantly amazed when friends, of all nationalities, who visit at night declare that they have never had the opportunity to look at the sky in detail before.

For newcomers to planet spotting, a good hint is that the planets always travel within a few degrees of the path of the sun. The path that the sun appears to travel against the star background is called the ecliptic. It marks the centre of the band of sky within which the moon and planets are found. This area is known as the zodiac. The ecliptic passes through the 13 zodiacal constellations of Pisces, Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Ophiuchus, Sagittarius, Capricorn and Aquarius. Ophiuchus does not appear in the astrologer's zodiac although the planets spend more time in it than in Scorpio. Astrologers use a different zodiac from astronomers for reasons explained in the notes on precession.
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