March Apogee Moon

   The Moon reaches apogee, (greatest distance from Earth), this month on Thursday March 5th at 7 UT (1 am CST). At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 31.86 Earth diameters (406,384 km or 252,515 miles) from the Earth.
Our Moon orbits around the Sun with the Earth and from our perspective on the Earth the Moon appears to circle around the Earth. However in reality the Moon orbits the Sun together with the Earth*.

   The full Moon rises at around sunset local time and is visible all night, setting at around the local time for sunrise.

*Click here to read my 2006 Scope on the Sky column “The Real Shape of the Moon’s Orbit”. (PDF)


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.

Leo Grabs the Moon

Tuesday evening March 3rd the 13-day old waxing gibbous Moon rises in the east about 5o from the star Regulus in Leo the Lion. The Moon is near the front paws of the Lion like a cat playing with a ball.


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.

The Moon By Jove

   Yes I know the title sounds like one of those ‘how to use a comma’ phrases: “The Moon by Jove” vs. “The Moon, by Jove”. I’ll let you decide!
   Nonetheless around sunset local time the rising 12-day old waxing gibbous Moon is within 4-5o from Jupiter 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.

Dance of the Planets

   Over a period of the next two weeks the planets Venus, Uranus, and Mars are all more or less in the same direction, or line of sight as we see them in the evening skies. Not an alignment straight out from the earth, but rather they are arranged along the ecliptic from west to east. From an overhead view you can see that the three planets are at a point along their respective orbital path where they are viewed in the same direction.

   Since the planets are in motion, as also is the Earth, The three planets, Venus, Uranus, and Mars will all come together in conjunctions beginning with a triple conjunction on March 4th when the three will easily fit within the field of view of binoculars as they graphic shows. On that day the ‘gap’ between Venus and Uranus will be 0.09o making this the closest planet-planet conjunction for the year.
Then on March 11th Mars and Uranus will be in a planet-planet conjunction and they will be separated by 0.27o. This will be close enough to fit both within the field of view of a 25mm eyepiece in an 8″ Reflecting telescope.

February 28th to March 15th

February 28th to March 15th at 7:30pm CST and CDT)


   This animated graphic (with greatly exaggerated planet size and separations) is set to 1-day intervals. In addition to the motions of the planets relative to each other the part of the sky where the conjunctions take place is gradually getting closer to the horizon and the Sun. This is a result of the Earth’s orbital motion causing the sky to shift toward the west each day and the Sun’s apparent eastward motion.

   
   
   
   
   

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.

Twins Get Mooned

February 27th, 28th, March 1st

February 27th, 28th, March 1st


   Over the next few evenings the waxing gibbous Moon moves past the Gemini Twins as this animated graphic is showing.

   
   
   

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.

Neptune at Solar conjunction

view-from-earth_neptune-solar-conjunction   Thursday February 26th the outer planet Neptune reaches a point in its orbit where it passes behind the Sun as we view this from Earth. Neptune, and the other outer planets, dwarf planets, or small solar system bodies, all eventually reach this position on the opposite side of the Sun known as solar conjunction.


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-Aldebaran Conjunction

   Wednesday evening February 25th the first quarter Moon will be within about 1o from Aldebaran, a reddish star with an apparent magnitude of 0.9, in Taurus the Bull. Aldebaran as a reddish appearing star represents the Bull’s ‘angry eye’, which goes along with the head down charging stance toward Orion.

25feb-bino   From parts of the world at high northern latitudes (Alaska, Northwestern Canada, Greenland) Aldebaran will be occulted by the Moon. However for the rest of the world, this will be a close conjunction between the Moon and Aldebaran. Through binoculars the Moon, Aldebaran, and the v-shaped open star cluster, the Hyades, will all fit within the field of view.

   
   
   

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.