Sun Not in Leo Today

22july  According to the pseudoscience of astrology the Sun enters the constellation of Leo the Lion on Tuesday 22 July at 5 pm CDT (22 UT). When in fact the actual position of the Sun today is within the boundaries of the constellation of Cancer the Crab. The Sun is still close to the western boundary of Cancer having just crossed that boundary a couple of days ago.

   Read a little more about how astrology has the Sun incorrectly placed in a previous blog, and in another blog discussing the effects of precession.
   
   
   

Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

Moon Near Aldebaran

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   On the morning of Tuesday 22 July look toward the southeastern horizon for the waning crescent Moon to be in the ‘V’ of the open star cluster known as the Hyades, and about 2o away from the reddish star Aldebaran.. The v-shaped Hyades marks the face of Taurus the Bull with Aldebaran representing a red eye, an angry bull.
   
22july-bino   The Hyades is a an open star cluster with somewhere around 200 stars many of which help form the familiar v-shape pattern. Unmistakable in its brightness compared with the rest of the ‘v’ stars is the reddish star Aldebaran. While Aldebaran is usually described as the eye of the bull this red giant star is not actually part of the open cluster. Rather it is a line-of-sight arrangement. Aldebaran (60 light years) is nearly three times closer than the stars of the Hyades (150 light years).

   
   

Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

Moon The Sisters!

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   On the morning of Monday 21 July look toward the southeastern horizon for the waning crescent Moon to be about 6-7o away from the open star cluster known as the Pleiades, or the 7 Sisters. There are a variety of mythologies about these stars and why they are called the Seven Sisters even though most people only see 6 stars. Which too many folks looks like a small dipper shape. In darker skies it is possible to see up to 12 stars.
   
21july-bino   The Pleiades, or M-45, is an open cluster containing around 500 stars. In many time exposure pictures bluish-white nebulosity seems to surround the stars. The nebula is actually a Reflection Nebula, glowing from the light of the stars within the cluster. The Pleiades are easy to see with the unaided eye and become more spectacular when an optical aid is used.

   
   

Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

Sun Enters Cancer

19july-view-from-earth   Sunday 20 July at 7 pm CDT (0 UT 21 July) the Sun in its apparent eastward motion along the ecliptic, moves out of the constellation Gemini the Twins and into the constellation of Cancer the Crab. This is the true or actual position of the Sun as opposed to the pseudoscience of astrology which usually has the astrological Sun one constellation ahead or east from the Astronomical Sun’s position.

   Read a little more about how astrology has the Sun incorrectly placed in a previous blog, and in another blog discussing the effects of precession.
   
   
   

Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

Venus and M-35

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   Sunday morning, 20 July, the planet Venus will be within 2o from the open star cluster M-35, a fairly easy to see object with the naked-eye and binoculars in reasonably dark skies. Looking like an out-of-focus star M-35 is an open star cluster located near the feet of Castor, one of the Gemini Twins. M-35 consists of several hundred stars in a group spanning about 30″, about the size of the full Moon. M-35 shines at an apparent magnitude of around 4.5 as compared with the -4.0 magnitude of nearby Venus.

20july-bino   Adding to viewing is the other inner planet, Mercury, located about 6o down to the left from Venus as this graphic shows.

   
   
   

Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

Mars at East Quadrature

orbital-positions   Saturday 19 July at 6 UT (1 CDT) the position of the planet Mars, with respect to the Earth and the Sun, places this planet at what is called eastern quadrature. At that orbital position Mars, and actually any outer planet, is at a 90 degree angle from the Earth as this graphic shows, and the banner graphic at the top of the page shows. Think first quarter Moon as that is a fair comparison of the relative positions of Earth, Sun, and Mars. At this position Mars follows the Sun across the sky from east to west as the Earth is rotating, meaning that Mars rises after the Sun and then sets after the Sun.

   This is a short video clip about Mars from a much longer video that I made as part of a live musical performance called “Orbit” at the Gottleib Planetarium in Kansas City Missouri during May 2011.

   
   
   

Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

Moon at descending Node

18jul-descending_node   Friday 18 July at 21:23 UT (3:23 pm CDT) our Moon will be crossing the plane of the ecliptic moving south. This is known as the descending node, one of two intersections the Moon’s orbital path (dark green line) has with the ecliptic. Note the ecliptic is the line with ‘Apr’ however that is a reference to when the Sun will be at that point along the ecliptic and not the date for this node crossing.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   Look for the waxing gibbous Moon high above the southern horizon in the pre-dawn skies. It will be visible for most of the morning until the sky brightens and moonset at around 1 pm local time.

   
   
   

Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.