Whats in the Sky

This page is not being updated beyond the end of 2012.
If you have been making regular use of it,
you should look for some other source of information,
such as the Sky & Telescope website.
Some of information below is drawn from the Handbook of the British Astronomical Association,
and some is taken from the magazine Sky & Telescope.

What can be seen in the evening sky?  It depends mainly on the time of year.  Some circumpolar constellations can be seen all year round: one of these is Ursa Major, the Great Bear, which includes the Plough.  Others come and go: Orion, for example, can only be seen in the winter.

The sky-maps given here show which stars are visible in the evening, for each month of the year.  They are drawn for St.Andrews, Fife (latitude 56.3 degrees north), but they apply to much of central Scotland.

General sky-maps:


On any clear night, we may see the occasional meteor or “shooting-star”, as tiny specks of interplanetary débris burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere. Sometimes the Earth travels through a cloud of this dust, and we get a meteor-shower; in this case, the meteors all seem to spread out from a single radiant point.

Some of these monthly star-maps include information about meteor-showers occurring in those months:  the position of the radiant point, and the approximate date of the showers peak.

Sporadic (non-shower) meteors may be seen at any time, on any night, in any part of the sky.

More about the Moon

The Moon changes shape, and appears in different parts of the sky, at different times of the day or night.  But its not too hard to understand why it does this, and to know when and where to look for it.

Here is a general guide to how the Moon behaves at different phases.  More detailed information is available for January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December.

(The Moons orbit also goes through longer-term variations, which can give rise to more subtle phenomena such as a major lunar standstill.)

The Moons phases repeat on approximately the same dates every third year. These calendars show the phase of the Moon for each day from the start of July to the end of the following July:
  • 2009-2010 
         (phases will be 3 days later in 2012-13, 6 days later in 2015-16, etc.)
  • 2010-2011 
    phases will be 3 days later in 2013-14, 6 days later in 2016-17, etc.)
  • 2011-2012 
    phases will be 3 days later in 2014-15, 6 days later in 2017-18, etc.)

Prepared by Fiona Vincent.

Please e-mail me with any comments or suggestions.
The address is my two initials, followed by “
@st-and.ac.uk” .

Page last modified 2013 January 26th.