DARK SKY SEASONS
In the winter time, darkness dominates the sky above Denmark – the nights are really long, so is the observation of the stars.
As the Milky Way’s Great Rift sets behind the horizon right before the midnight, it is Winter constellation, Orion the Hunter, that shines bright all night. It is really easy to spot the Orion, as it’s the brightest constellation of the Winter sky – Orion appears in South-East and sets down in West.
When the air gets colder and much cleaner – you will see the stars flickering like diamonds as tiny ice particles fill the crisp winter air. Follow the path of the Orion’s belt down to the left and you will see the brightest star of our night sky – Sirius. When the star is rising above the horizon, at first it might look like UFO, because of the continues flickering – simply because of it’s brightness shining through the Earth’s atmosphere.
The king of all the meteor showers, Geminids, shows its full power in mid-December with up to 120 colorful meteors per hour. While the radiant is located in the heart of the Gemini constellation, you will still be able to see bright meteors flying across the entire night sky.
- Orion constellation, Great Orion nebula
- Northern Lights
Gems of the Winter night sky
Spring time is a mixture of Winter and Summer night sky – as the Orion constellation sets down behind the horizon, dusty lane of the Milky Way will be rising in the North-Eastern part of the sky.
Around equinox, which takes place on the 20th of March, there are probably the best chances to see the Northern Lights from Denmark. Our planet has a magnetosphere, which protects us from strong solar winds and radiation, but every spring and autumn it opens for a couple of hours. At this point even a slight solar wind can go though the gaps and cause bright Auroras. As a long-term study shows, March is the most geomagnetically active month of the year. Make sure to follow Aurora-alerts or simply check forecast for the upcoming days (e.g. Aurora-service.eu or spaceweather.com)
In March and April, 1,5 hour after sunset, just before the beginning of the astronomical darkness, look West to see cosmic dust reflecting the sunlight. The phenomenon is called Zodiacal Light – a lens-shaped “light source”, stretching nearly up to zenith.
By the end of April, darkness will almost be vanished, as the Earth’s approaching summer inclination. It mean that from the beginning of May the sky will never be dark for the next 3 month. By May you will have only a couple of hours in the early mornings to enjoy the Milky Way rising above the Baltic Sea.
- Northern Lights
- Zodiacal Light
- Eta Aquarids
- “Return” of the Milky Way
- End of darkness
Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) dancing in the Danish sky
While the darkest time of the summer nights takes place at 1:30 AM, there are almost no stars to be seen. Since Denmark is located relatively high up North, there is only 6 hours between sunset and sunrise. The Sun will only be between 11 and 14 degrees below the horizon, which makes the sky dark-blue color.
But don’t worry, summer is the only time to experience Noctilucent (or Night-Shining) Clouds! Look West 2 hours after the sunset to spot these beautiful silver clouds. Noctilucent Clouds are tiny-tiny ice particles that reflect the sunlight, located 80 km above the Earth’s surface, nearly at the edge of Space. Those ice particles come from volcanic and meteor ash, being stacked in the atmosphere’s upper layers. From the late May, temperature of the mesosphere drops down below -120 degrees Celsius and the Silver Clouds begin to form.
Noctilucent Clouds are the highest clouds in the Earth’s atmosphere, that is why they reflect the sunlight during the night time. Season for the Space Clouds begins in late May/first days of June and lasts till the end of July. The best time to observe Noctilucent Clouds is around the midnight but the bright display can appear again just before the morning.
On the 4th of August, darkness will officially return to Møn and a new observation season will begin. If you go to one of the nearby hills, you will see the Milky Way core in the Southern direction, setting behind the North coast of Germany, on the other side of the Baltic Sea.
From early August, year’s biggest meteor shower will start to gain it’s power as the peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower is underway. The radiant is located in the North-Eastern part of the sky in the constellation of Perseus, just above the treeline. On the peak night, which is 12-13th of August, you will be able to see more than one meteor each minute with total amount of about 100 meteor per hour!
The best way to enjoy the “starfall” is to lie down on the ground and look up into the never-ending universe.
- Noctilucent Clouds
- Milky Way
Noctilucent Clouds will amaze your usual night view
Autumn is the best time to observe and enjoy our starry night sky. In the evenings you will see the Milky Way standing as a pillar above the horizon and later, after midnight, Winter constellations will begin to show up.
As the sun sets earlier and earlier, there won’t be any need to go out late for stargazing. Already in October you can enjoy the Milky Way at 8 o’clock in the evening – bring the kids with you and show them the Universe.
Since Møn is a Dark Sky Park, it is relatively easy to see our neighbor galaxy, Andromeda. It is located between the Cassiopeia constellation (W-shape in the Northern part of the sky) and star Mirach, but after midnight the Andromeda galaxy will be in Zenith, right above your head. Grab a telescope and explore galaxy’s elliptical structure!
- Milky Way
- Early morning’s Winter constellations
- Andromeda galaxy
- Northern Lights
Autumn is the best time to enjoy the Milky Way