Moon at Apogee

   Our Moon reaches apogee, (greatest distance from Earth), for this orbit, on Sunday May 26th. At that time the Moon will be at a distance of 31.68 Earth diameters 251,117 miles (404,134 km) from the Earth.

   The 22-day old last quarter Moon rises after midnight local time and sets later that same day.

   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?”

   
   
   

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Send Your Name to Mars

   As the next mission to the planet Mars progresses toward a July 2020 launch NASA has invited the public to send your name onboard the Mars 2020 Rover.
Use this link to go directly to the send your name website.

   
   
   

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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May Moon at Descending Node

   Wednesday May 22nd the 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.
   On the day of the node crossing the 17.5-day old waning gibbous Moon will be 5-7o to the west from the ringed planet Saturn. The following day, May 23rd, the 18.5-day old waning gibbous Moon will have orbited to the east side of Saturn passing within 5-6o.


   
   
   
   
   

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Sun Does Not Enter Gemini

  According to the pseudoscience of astrology the Sun enters the constellation of the Gemini Twins on Tuesday May 21st. When in fact the actual position of the Sun on this date is still within the boundary of the constellation of Taurus the Bull, as this graphic and the banner graphic show.

   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.

   
   
   

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 Superior Conjunction

orbital-positions   Tuesday May 21st the innermost planet Mercury reaches superior conjunction. At superior conjunction Mercury will be on the opposite side of the Sun. The graphic to the right shows the planet positions relative to the Earth and Sun for both inner planets and outer planets.

   While at this superior conjunction Mercury will not be directly in line with the Earth and the Sun – on the ecliptic. Mercury has an orbital inclination of 7o with respect to the ecliptic. So like our Moon, Mercury during each complete orbit, will cross the plane of the ecliptic moving north (ascending node) and also moving south (descending node). For this superior conjunction Mercury had just crossed the ecliptic moving north.
   

   
   
   

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 – Jupiter Conjunction

   Late Monday evening May 20th the 15-day old waning gibbous Moon will be within about 3-4o from the outer ringed planet Jupiter, and about 8-9o from Antares, the ‘heart’ of Scorpius the Scorpion. Jupiter and the Moon will easily fit within the field of view of binoculars. Jupiter is currently located within the boundaries of the constellation of Ophiuchus the Healer, the 13th constellation of the Astronomical zodiac.

   
   
   

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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Mars and M-35

   Sunday evening, May 19th, the ‘Red Planet’ Mars will be passing across the open star cluster M-35. This is a group of stars almost 4,000 light years distant located in the constellation of Gemini the Twins, near their feet. Depending on local sky conditions M-35 may be visible with the unaided, but now with Mars traversing the star cluster it also will be a great sight with binoculars, a telescope, and a camera.


   
   
   

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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