Moon – Jupiter Conjunction

   Friday evening July 20th the 8-day old waxing gibbous Moon will be 3-4o from the ringed planet Jupiter. Joining Jupiter to the west is Venus, and east from Jupiter are the planets Saturn and Mars.
   Close to Jupiter is 3rd magnitude star Zubenelgenubi in Libra the Scales.

   
   
   

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.


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Planet-A-Palooza plus the Moon

   This is one of those ‘best of times’ with regard to planet viewing. All of the visible planets are above the horizon although Mercury sets just before Mars rises. Times like this make it easy to visualize the ecliptic and its relationship with the planets. And our Moon, as it waxes toward full phase over the next several days, will pass by several planets and dwarf planets.

Click on a graphic to start a slide show.

   
   
   

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.


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Moon in Conjunction with Venus


   Sunday evening July 15th the 3-day young waxing crescent Moon will be 2o from Venus, and 5o from the star Regulus in Leo the Lion. Further to the east are the planets Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars.


   The three, Moon, Venus, and Regulus, all fit comfortably within a binocular field of view.

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

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.


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Circumstances for a Solar Eclipse


   Friday July 13th and Saturday the 14th circumstances are such that there will be a partial solar eclipse that will be best viewed from along the northern coast of Antarctica. (hey! every Antarctic coast is a northern coast!!
Specifically the partial solar eclipse will be visible at around 129o E near the Claire Coast.

   Circumstances for a solar eclipse, like for a lunar eclipse, require the Moon to be at either its ascending node or its descending node and be at or close to either new or full Moon phase. A node crossing occurs when the Moon with an orbit tilted 6o from the ecliptic (the Earth’s orbit) intersects the ecliptic.


   The Moon has an elliptically shaped orbit so if the timing for lunar apogee (furthest from Earth) or perigee (closest to the Earth) happens around a new Moon at a node crossing then the apparent size of the Moon will be anywhere from smaller to larger than the Sun’s apparent size. Smaller means a longer eclipse including the length of totality.


   
   
   However the bottom line is the timing between the node crossing and new Moon. This time the Moon crosses the ecliptic moving north, ascending node, approximately 24 hours after new Moon phase setting up a partial solar eclipse.

So what are the circumstances?
Times are in Universal Time (CDT = UT-5)
   July 13th
   1:48 UT – Partial Solar Eclipse Begins
   2:48 UT – New Moon — Partial Solar Eclipse
   3:01 UT – Mid-Eclipse (maximum Sun covered)
   4:13 UT – Partial Solar Eclipse Ends
   8:27 UT – Moon at Perigee – 357, 432 km (222,098 miles)
   July 14th
   2:52 UT – Moon at Ascending Node

   
   
   

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.


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Mercury at Eastern Elongation

orbital-positions    On Thursday July 12th Mercury, the innermost planet, will reach its orbital position known as greatest eastern elongation. At that moment Mercury, the Sun, and the Earth, would be arranged in something close to approximating a right angle as this graphic shows.
   From our perspective the orbits of Mercury and Venus appear to move from one side of the Sun to the other – from superior conjunction, behind the Sun, out to the left (east) from the Sun to eastern elongation, then reverse and move westward through (inferior conjunction) between the Earth and the Sun to western elongation. From there the inner planet moves eastward going behind the Sun (superior conjunction) and eventually reappearing on the eastern side of the Sun for an eastern elongation. Repeat over and over – do not stop!

   Currently Mercury is visible over the western horizon at sunset local time. Joining Mercury are the planets Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn. Mars rises about an hour after Mercury sets.
   
   
   

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.


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Pluto at 2018 Opposition

orbital-positions   Thursday July 12th the Dwarf Planet Pluto will be at opposition. All outer planets and other solar system objects that orbit the Sun beyond the orbit of the Earth have opposition. At that orbital position the Earth is between the Sun and the outer solar system object, much like the Sun-Earth-Moon arrangement for a full Moon. At opposition the outer solar system object rises at the local time for sunset and sets at the local time for sunrise – again just like the full Moon.

   Where is Pluto and is Pluto visible to the naked eye? Pluto currently is a few degrees east from the handle of the teapot-shaped asterism for Sagittarius the Archer, and mid-way between Mars and Saturn. Pluto is visible, but with an apparent magnitude of 14.8 Pluto would only be visible with large aperture telescopes and with time-exposure pictures.

Click here to learn more about the New Horizons mission and take part in the mission with some of the interactives created by NASA.

   
   
   
   

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.

Waning Crescent Moon in Close Conjunction with Aldebaran

   Tuesday July 10th in the hour or so before sunrise local time the very thin 26.5-day old waning crescent Moon will be within about 1o (width of 2 full Moons) from the reddish star Aldebaran in the open star cluster the Hyades. The Hyades are a v-shaped group of stars marking the face of Taurus the Bull. Reddish-colored Aldebaran represents an angry eye of the Bull.
   This conjunction is close enough so that a combination of a thin waning crescent Moon and the bright Aldebaran should make for a take a look with binoculars or the ‘naked-eye’.

   For those keeping track of Jupiter should be relieved to read that Jupiter’s retrograde motion has ended, and at least for the foreseeable future Jupiter has agreed to stick with the ‘program’ and resume it’s direct motion – eastward.

   
   
   

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.


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