Saturn Moon Conjunction

   Tuesday morning May 5th the Moon, just past full phase, will be within a few degrees from the outer planet Saturn as this graphic shows. A few additional degrees further is the reddish star Antares in the constellation Scorpio the Scorpion.

   
   
   
   

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 at Eastern Quadrature

1apr-jupiter-east-quad   On Monday May 4th the position of the planet Jupiter with respect to the Earth and the Sun places the solar system’s largest planet at an orbital position called eastern quadrature. Jupiter is at a 90 degree angle from the Earth as this graphic shows. Think first quarter Moon as that is a fair comparison of the relative positions. At this position Jupiter follows the Sun across the sky from east to west as the Earth is rotating, meaning that Jupiter rises after the Sun and consequently sets after the Sun.
   Where is Jupiter now? This graphic shows the sky at 10 pm CDT to include Venus over the western horizon, and Jupiter high above the southwestern horizon in between the star Regulus and the open star cluster, M-44, or the Beehive Cluster.

   This is a short 6-7 minute video I made as part of a live musical performance called “Orbit” that was performed at the Gottleib Planetarium in Kansas City Missouri in May 2011. This is a piece from the much longer tour of the solar system performance and video and shows Jupiter, Saturn and some of their moons as viewed from the Cassini spacecraft.

   
   
   
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.

A Celestial 2 for 1

   Saturday evening May 2nd the waxing gibbous Moon will be within a few degrees from the bluish-white star Spica in the constellation Virgo the Maiden. Both will easily fit in the field of view of binoculars. And while you are looking at this part of the sky direct your view up to the left from Spica to find the reddish star Arcturus in the constellation Bootes the Herdsman. If you continue looking up to the left you will find the 3 stars making the curved handle of the Big Dipper asterism. If you reverse your viewing then you can do as this astronomical mnemonic suggests, “Follow the Arc to Arcturus, then speed to Spica.”

mars-saturn-helio-conj
    Also, on May 2nd the outer planets Mars and Saturn will be on opposite sides of the Sun in an arrangement known as heliocentric opposition.

   
   
   
   

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.

May Moon at Ascending Node

may1-ascending-node   On Friday May 1st at 9:51 UT (4:51 am CDT) our Moon will be crossing the plane of the ecliptic moving north. This is known as the ascending node, one of two intersections the Moon’s orbital path has with the ecliptic. The ecliptic is 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.

   
   
   
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.

April Apogee Moon #2

29apr-apogee   The Moon will reach apogee, (greatest distance from Earth), for the second time this month on Wednesday April 29th at 4 UT (Tuesday 11 pm CDT 28 April). At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 31.75 Earth diameters (405,083 km or 251,707 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)

   The 10-day old waxing gibbous Moon rises about 1-2 hours before sunset local time and will be visible all night, setting at around the local time for sunrise.

   
   
   

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 Paws the Moon!

   Monday evening the waxing gibbous Moon will be within 3-4o from the heart of Leo the Lion, the star Regulus. Both fit comfortably within the field of view of a pair of binoculars.
   Regulus, viewed as a bright star with an apparent magnitude of 1.3, is located at a distance of 78-79 light years from the Earth. Regulus is actually a multiple star system consisting of 2 pair of stars. Regulus is paired with a smaller companion star, possibly a white dwarf star.
   Read more about the star Regulus at the EarthSky web site.

   
   
   

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 Weekend Moon

moon-bino

   This weekend the waxing Moon will pass by the open star cluster, M-44, the outer planet Jupiter, and the heart of Leo the Lion, the star Regulus. M-44, or the Beehive Cluster, is an open star cluster comprised of about 1000 stars, and located at a distance of around 600 light years from the Earth. On the evening of the 25th the three will all fit, more or less, within the field of view of 7×50 binoculars – as this graphic shows.
   The slide show below shows the sky at 10 pm CDT for the next three evenings, starting with Saturday the 25th.
   
   

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

   
   
   
   

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.