What are the Quasar Publishing Yearbooks and what can they do for me?
We have been producing these annual publications for 34 years since 1991. These yearbooks are written by Australians for Australians.
ASTRONOMY 2024 is available directly from Quasar (along with many previous editions).
These yearbooks have been designed for anyone who looks at the night sky whether you are using just your eyes, a pair of binoculars or a telescope. The book has something for everyone from the basic novice up to the advanced amateur astronomer. This includes those with a casual interest who might just want to know, “what is that bright star next to the Moon?”
This book and a good planisphere are powerful tools for those first learning their way around the sky.
The book includes most of the monthly section from November and December the previous year. Below are some examples from the December 2023 monthly section.
The table of contents (PDF) and the complete December 2023 section (4 page PDF) can be downloaded.
Each month has one of these, it enables you to quickly determine when (or if) a planet or the Moon is visible in the night sky for any day in that month. Each chart has the midnight line centred, with the evening sky below this line and the following morning sky above. The ideal time to observe an outer planet is at the time of transit (represented by dashed lines), which is when it is due north and has reached its maximum altitude. Moon phases are included.
Each month this diagram provides the reader with a telescopic view of each planet at the same scale. To make them more attractive we use photographic images but you may be surprised how much detail can be viewed directly through a small telescope given good seeing. For example, the Great Red Spot (when visible) and cloud belts on Jupiter. Phases are also shown for Mercury, Venus and Mars and the approximate appearance of Saturn’s rings. Each image is shown north up with a date, the planet’s angular diameter and magnitude. Shown here is the December 2021 appearance diagram.
This is a list of general phenomena associated with the planets, Moon, minor planets and comets. Included are:
Phase of the Moon.
Key events in a planet’s orbit.
Selected conjunctions between the Sun, Moon, planets, comets, minor planets (asteroids), brighter stars and deep sky objects.
Shown here is the Diary for December 2022 (from the 2023 edition)
Sky View Diagrams
There are usually 4-6 of these diagrams each month and are designed to help you find the naked-eye planets. The date and time chosen give the most interesting patterns of the planets and Moon. Sometimes the times correspond to about one hour (or even down to 30 minutes) before sunrise or after sunset. Shown here is one for Dec 2022.
Presented are general notes on each planet, including location in the sky and best time to observe. Emphasis is placed on their suitability for observation and any interesting conjunctions and patterns between the Moon, other Solar System objects, stars and deep sky objects.
Shown here is the December 2023 monthly text (in the 2024 book) for Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
Mars remains too close to the Sun for observation. However, it will reappear in the morning sky during late January in Sagittarius.
Now past opposition, Jupiter, in Aries, is visible in the early north-eastern evening sky. The prominent summer constellations of Taurus and Orion are now extending back toward the east. The King of Planets is always fascinating to observe; besides the to-and-fro dance of the four Galilean moons, there are changes in the planet’s atmosphere worth looking for. The most obvious and easiest to identify features on Jove are the dark north (NEB) and south equatorial (SEB) belts. At first glance, an inexperienced observer may see the two belts as straight bands across the disc. However, with steady seeing, short-term protuberances, gaps, and bright and dark spots are all visible within the bands. With Jupiter’s rapid 10-hour rotation, things move quickly, and a feature noted in a belt will move perceptibly in half an hour. On the 22nd, the 10-day old waxing gibbous Moon appears near the planet (see Sky View).
Saturn is visible in Aquarius in the western sky at the end of dusk. Aside from the 1st magnitude star, Fomalhaut (Alpha Piscis Austrini), in neighbouring Piscis Austrinus, the planet is the brightest object in a region devoid of bright stars. Although not real close, the waxing crescent Moon enhances the western view with Saturn on the 17th and 18th (see Sky View).
Uranus, now past opposition, is in the northern evening sky at the end of astronomical twilight in Aries, transiting the meridian around 9:30 pm mid-month. Most amateur astronomers would have seen Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn with the unaided eye or through a telescope. But to complete a planetary tour of the Solar System, one must observe the remaining two outer ice giants. They are not difficult to locate under a dark sky, and you can cross them off your bucket list.
Neptune, in Aquarius, comes to the end of five months in retrograde on the 7th and appears high in the early north-western evening sky at the end of astronomical dusk. The planet had a brief sojourn into Aquarius late last month, but its west to east motion brings it back into Pisces mid-month.
All Sky Maps
Map 3, one of nine in the book covering the entire sky visible from Australia.