December Moon Descends on Neptune

   Well not exactly descending on Neptune but on Tuesday December 6th the first quarter 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. Several hours after the node crossing the Moon will pass within less than 0.5o from Neptune – that separation depending on your longitude/time zone.
(The Moon and Neptune in the graphic have exaggerated sizes.)
   

   On the day of the node crossing the 7-day old first quarter Moon rises around mid-day local time and is visible most of the night, setting a couple of hours after midnight.

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to go to bobs-spaces.

Moon Passes Mars

   The waxing crescent Moon will pass by the red planet Mars on December 4th and 5th as this animated graphic below is showing. The graphic is set for around 7 pm CST.

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.

ISS This Evening

   This evening, Thursday December 1st, the International Space Station, ISS, did another orbit over my part of the world as it first appeared in the southwest near the setting waxing crescent Moon. It climbed to nearly straight overhead as it passed by the stars of Delphinus the Dolphin, Sagitta the Arrow, and Deneb in the Cygnus the Swan, until it passed out of my camera’s field of view. I continued to watch it cruise past the stars of Cassiopeia the Queen high over the northeast horizon.

   This was my first time for seeing the entire flyover from when the ISS appeared in the southwest until it faded out near Cassiopeia. Pretty cool.
   Camera settings: 21 stacked pictures at 18mm; ISO 1600; f3.5; 3.5 sec; at 2 second intervals.
   

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.

Waxing Crescent Moon Near Venus

   Friday evening December 2nd the thin 3.5-day old waxing crescent Moon will be about 7-8o from the inner planet Venus. Several other planets are also visible above the horizon. At the time the graphic is set for, 5:30 pm CST, the planet Saturn has just set, Mercury is within about 30 minutes from setting, and Mars shines within the constellation of Capricornus the Sea Goat.
   Not visible to the naked eye, but part of the picture, is the outermost of the 8 planets, Neptune.

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.

Neptune at Eastern Quadrature

1dec-neptune-east-quadrature   Thursday December 1st the position of the planet Neptune with respect to the Earth and the Sun places this ringed planet at what is called Eastern Quadrature. Neptune is at a 90 degree angle from the Earth – think first quarter Moon as that is a fair comparison of the relative positions. At this position Neptune follows the Sun across the sky from east to west as the Earth is rotating, meaning that Neptune rises after the Sun and sets after the Sun.

   Where is Neptune now? The 8th planet from the Sun is currently within the constellation of Aquarius the Water Bearer and has recently completed its retrograde motion (November 20th).
   Along with Neptune the 2.5-day young waxing crescent Moon and several other planets are above the horizon at sunset and later.   And it is at time like this I would be remiss if I didn’t point out how the ecliptic may be visualized as a line that more less connects the planets as this animated graphic shows.

   
   
   
   This is a 1 minute clip from a video I made showing Neptune and some of its moons as viewed from the Voyager 2 spacecraft. This clip is from a longer video of a tour of the solar system and was part of a live musical performance called “Orbit”. The performances were done in May 2011 at the Gottleib Planetarium in Science City at Union Station in Kansas City MO.

   

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.

ISS Flyover This Evening


   The ISS, International Space Station made an appearance over the southwestern horizon this evening. As this map from the Heavens-Above web site illustrates the path the ISS will follow – which it did. (see below)

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   Here is a stacked sequence of 30 pictures showing the path the ISS followed as well as Venus, Mars, and the stars of Capricornus the Sea Goat. All pictures were taken at: 18 mm; 2 sec.; ISO 1600; f3.5

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.

Thin Moon and Planets

   Wednesday evening November 30th a very thin less than 2-day old waxing crescent Moon will be just above the western horizon and near Saturn and Mercury. At the time of sunset, my local time of CST, the Moon will be about 1.4 days or somewhere around 30 hours old-young. While this is not a record for the youngest waxing crescent Moon seen with the naked eye it will nonetheless be an interesting challenge.
    The youngest Moon seen with the naked eye was seen by Stephen James O’Meara in May 1990 when he saw a waxing Moon that was only 15 hours, 32 minutes old.
   The planets Venus and Mars are further west from the Moon but within the next few days the waxing Moon will pass by them. Venus on the 2nd and Mars on the 4th.

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.