Jupiter in Solar Conjunction

jupiter-solar-conjunction-from-earth   Wednesday August 26th the planet Jupiter reaches conjunction with the sun, in effect behind the sun as we view the two from Earth. Jupiter will reappear later next month in the morning skies joining with Venus as two very bright morning ‘stars’.

   
   
   
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 Not in Virgo

   
According to the pseudoscience of astrology the Sun enters the constellation of Virgo the Maiden on Sunday August 23rd at 11 UT (6 am CDT). When in fact the actual position of the Sun today is still within the boundaries of the constellation of Leo the Lion.

   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 and Saturn

   Saturday evening, August 22nd the first quarter Moon will be a few degrees to the east (left) from the planet Saturn, and just out of reach from the Scorpion’s pincers.

   
   
   
   

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.

Saturn at East Quadrature-2015

   Friday August 21st the position of the planet Saturn with respect to the Earth and the Sun places this ringed planet at what is called eastern quadrature. Saturn is at a 90 degree angle from us as this graphic shows. Think first quarter Moon as that is a fair comparison of the relative positions. At this position Saturn follows the Sun across the sky from east to west as the Earth is rotating, meaning that Saturn rises after the Sun and sets after the Sun.

   Where is Saturn now? Saturn is west (to the right) from the planet Saturn and near the eastern side of the constellation Libra the Scales.

Learn a little (or a lot) more about Saturn by visiting the Cassini at Saturn mission web site.
Click here to go to the Cassini Mission web site.
Click here to go to the Cassini Mission Flyby web page to see when the next Saturn satellite flyby will be.

   This is a short 5 minute video I made as part of a live musical performance called “Orbit” that I was part of in May 2011. This is a piece from the much longer tour of the solar system performance and video and shows Saturn and some of its moons as viewed from the Cassini spacecraft that month.

   
   
   
   

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.

Virgo Grabs the Moon!

   Wednesday evening August 19th the 4.5 day young waxing crescent Moon will be within a few degrees from the bluish-white star Spica in Virgo the Harvest Maiden. Spica, as part of the constellation illustration represents the bundle of wheat, or whatever the harvest is, held in her left hand.
19aug   Spica and the Moon often have conjunctions such as this one on a regular basis. This is because Spica is within a couple of degrees from the ecliptic, while the Moon’s orbital path takes it above, on, or below the ecliptic during each month.

   
   
   
   

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.

August Apogee Moon

aug18-apogee-moon   The Moon reaches apogee, (greatest distance from Earth), this month on Tuesday August 18th. At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 31.80 Earth diameters (404,848 km or 252,182 miles) from the Earth.
   Does our Moon actually go around the Earth as this graphic shows? 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*

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

Read this very informative article about the Earth-Moon system and their orbital motions, written by Joe Hanson. “Do We Orbit the Moon?”

   The 4.5-day old waxing crescent Moon rises during the early afternoon hours and sets after midnight local time. This evening it will be to the right (west) from the blue-white star Spica in Virgo the Harvest Maiden.

   
   
   

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.

August Moon at Ascending Node

aug17-ascending-node   On Monday August 17th our Moon will be crossing the plane of the ecliptic moving north relative to the ecliptic. This is known as the ascending node, one of two intersections the Moon’s orbital path has with the ecliptic. The ecliptic is actually the Earth’s orbit and the Moon’s orbit is inclined about 6o from the ecliptic. So there are two node intersections, the ascending and descending nodes.

   On Monday evening the 3.5 day young waxing crescent Moon will be setting about 1-2 hours after the Sun sets. The planet Mercury, ‘down to the right’ may be visible as well as the blue-white star Spica ‘up to the left’.

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.