With the first month of winter behind us, the days begin to lengthen and the equinoctial winds of spring are only a month and a half away.

This period between the seasons is the cross quarter.

This month's cross quarter day is on August 7 and to the ancient Celts is called Imbolc.

New moon this month was on the 3rd, first quarter is on the 10th, full moon is on the 18th and last quarter is on the 25th.


As for the planets, the magnificent three still dominate the evening sky.

Jupiter outshines everything in the evening sky setting about 8.45pm.

Mars sets about about 2.30am, followed by Saturn at 3am.

All of the action is in the evening sky this month.

The magnificent three are joined at the beginning of the month by the welcome return of Venus and Mercury, so for a couple of weeks all five "naked eye" planets will be visible lined up across the evening sky.

Throughout this month and into the next we will witness a string of conjunctions between the five planets, the moon and some bright stars starting about the 22nd through to the 27th.

Mercury, Venus and Jupiter dance together with a close encounter between Jupiter and Mercury on the 22nd followed by Jupiter and Venus on the 28th.

These two planets will be so close that they will appear as a single planet to the naked eye.

Through a pair of binoculars Venus will appear just above the moon Callisto.

The moons Io and Ganymede will be in conjunction at the same time and this should make an interesting view through binoculars or a small telescope.

Also watch out for Mars and Saturn, they are in conjunction on the 24th, forming a straight line, like two piecing red eyes, with Antares.

For more information check out Eye on the Sky or the Rotorua Astronomical Society on Facebook.