Waning Crescent Moon Near M-35

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   Wednesday morning, August 20th, the very thin, nearly 25 day old, waning crescent Moon comes within about 6o from the open star cluster, M-35. Both are located near the feet of Castor, one of the Gemini Twins and are in the area of the sky where the Milky Way arches across the sky from the eastern horizon to the western horizon.

   

   
   
   

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.

Jupiter and the Bees

aug19-bino   Tuesday morning, August 19th the two bright planets Jupiter and Venus, now separated by a little more than 1o still dominate the morning skies at sunrise. Jupiter will have moved to its closest to M-44, the Beehive Cluster as it comes within about 1o. For an interesting contrast the 4th magnitude star Asellus Australis one of the brighter stars in the constellation Cancer the Crab.


Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   This part of the early morning sky contains most of the northern hemisphere winter season stars 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.

Venus, Jupiter, M-44, Aldebaran, and the Moon — Oh My!

Click on graphic to see it full-size.

Click on graphic to see it full-size.


   Monday morning, August 18th, there will be almost too much to see what with the waning crescent Moon within 2o from the reddish star Aldebaran in the the open star cluster the Hyades in Taurus the Bull. Lower toward the horizon are the two brightest planets in our skies, Venus and Jupiter both within less than 0.5o from each other. Adding to this conjunction is the open star cluster, M-44, the Beehive Cluster, in Cancer the Crab.

close-up

Click on picture to see it full-size.

Click on picture to see it full-size.

   Update: The skies were more or less clear this morning – some haze and a little fog started settling in bringing an end to my picture taking as the lens fogged up. Plus the usual early morning traffic noise on 50 Highway.
However…
   
   
   

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

15aug-desc-node   Friday 15 August at 00:19 UT (14 August at 7:19 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 waning 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 moon-set 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.

Mooning Uranus

   On Thursday August 14th the waning gibbous Moon will pass within 2o from the outer planet Uranus. This waning gibbous Moon rises around 11 pm local time on the 13th so it will be visible all night, not setting until around noon local time on the 14th. Look above the southwestern to western horizon for the Moon. Closest is at 17 UT (12 pm CDT). Not that Uranus would be visible unless one was viewing through a large telescope or using a camera, and of course before the Sun rises and the sky is too bright..
   For some viewers, somewhere on the Earth, (parts of central and northern Asia) the angle from their location to the Moon and Uranus will be such the Moon occults (an occultation), passes between Uranus the Earth.
   So why am I writing about something that more than likely will not be seen without optical assistance?
   Well even if you cannot see the planet Uranus, even as a dim star-like speck of light, it is there to at least be recognized. But mostly because this is one of a series of Moon Uranus conjunctions each month for the next several months, and I found that to be very interesting, especially with the regularity of the event (both orbit near the ecliptic so it is bound to happen), and how the date and phase of the month change from month to month. Again there is a regularity, a pattern, that this follows.

   For example watch how the Moon and Uranus gradually shift westward and are lower each month, until November when at 5:30 am CDT the two have already set. So the next picture shows them above the horizon 2 hours earlier at 3:30 am CDT. Note that the time backs up by 2 hours each month. This shift in the sky is primarily due to Earth revolution. As we orbit toward the east the sky shifts toward the west. And at a regular rate.

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moon-on-stick   Many Moons ago I was put this activity together for the teachers who brought classes to the Planetarium I directed. It was one of the more popular activities and Planetarium lab lessons I did because I used the Planetarium to model Moon phases, and then we would go outside and do this activity and also use a few 6″ Dobsonian telescopes to look at the Moon, and if enough time put on solar filters and look at the Sun. Explore Moon Phases
   
   
   

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.

How Super Is It?

   Here is an idea to prove that the Moon Does Not Change Its Size:moon-size-ani

    Assuming you have clear skies this evening as the full Moon rises the Moon probably will be observed by many as a Super Moon. But even without knowing this have you ever noticed how large the full Moon appears to be as it rises? This large appearing Moon is especially noticeable when, for example, there are trees along your local viewing horizon and the Moon is behind the trees as it rises. This is an optical illusion and while very convincing in appearance it is an illusion that is easily seen as just that – an illusion.
   To help correct this idea or to prove to yourself that the Moon is not bigger when it rises or sets look at the Moon through a toilet paper tube or something similar when the Moon is near the horizon, and then a couple of hours later when it is higher above the horizon. As this animated graphic illustrates the Moon is not only the same apparent size on both sightings, it is the same apparent size throughout the night, even as it sets.
Just the Facts:
Full Moon rise at local sunset time – Full Moon set at local sunrise time.
Full Moon will be 13% – 14% larger then the other full Moons of 2014.
Should be brighter when compared with…(presumably other full Moons that one has observed and recorded the apparent brightness to be used as a future reference for comparing with a Super Moon).

Go to the NASA web site for more about this picture and to see it full size.

Go to the NASA web site for more about this picture and to see it full size.

But without anything for comparison, and/or without any media hype, would you know this is a Super Moon?

   
   
   

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 Leo

10aug-view_from-earth   Sunday 10 July at 20 UT (3 pm CDT) the Sun in its apparent eastward motion along the ecliptic, moves out of the constellation Cancer the Crab and into the constellation of Leo the Lion. 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.