Late Wednesday night September 18th the 20-day old waning gibbous Moon will be rising with the stars making up the small dipper-shaped asterism known as the Pleiades. The Moon will be about 10o to the west from the Pleiades.
Tuesday September 17th the Sun in its apparent eastward motion along the ecliptic, moves out of the constellation of Leo the Lion and into the constellation of Virgo the Harvest Maiden. This is the true or actual position of the Sun as opposed to the pseudoscience of astrology which usually has the astrological Sun one constellation ahead or east from the Astronomical Sun’s position.
In a couple of days the Sun, according to astrology, will cross the ecliptic moving southward crossing from Virgo into the constellation of Libra the Scales. We know this day as the September equinox, which this year is on the 23rd.
For those that keep count, every year will have at least one Friday the 13th, while some years, like this one, have two Friday the 13th. This year the second Friday the 13th is on December 13th (I let you guess which day). Once in a while there will be 3 Friday the 13th with the last time occurring during 2015. A year having 3 Friday the 13th on the average only happen about 15 times each century, with the next two occurring during 2026 and 2037. What is kind of interesting is that there are more Friday the 13th days than any other day of the week on a 13th. It is also thought that the Friday the 13th is more or less a modern thing as there seem to be no records or very few accounts of the idea of a Friday the 13th until sometime early during the last century.
Here is a link to an interesting article of the history of Friday the 13th. Thirteen: The Private History of a Curse
Our Moon reaches apogee, (greatest distance from Earth), for this orbit, on Friday August 13th. At that time the Moon will be at a distance of 31.85 Earth diameters 252,511 miles (406,378 km) 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?”
Tuesday September 10th the outer planet Neptune reaches a position in its orbit around the Sun when it is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun. This coincidentally is known as opposition, and it is an orbital position which only the planets further from the Sun than the Earth may reach.
At opposition an object orbiting the Sun beyond Earth’s orbit rises and sets in a fashion similar to our Moon when it is at full phase, in that the object at opposition rises at sunset and sets at sunrise.
Neptune is over the eastern horizon after sunset local time and with an apparent magnitude of 7.81 is beyond unaided-eye visibility but could be visible with large aperture telescopes or with a camera.
Sunday September 8th 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 12.0-day old waxing gibbous Moon will be over the southern horizon and will be about 6-7o to the east from the ringed planet Saturn. Jupiter shines brightly further to the west near the reddish star Antares. With binoculars or telescope the dwarf planet Ceres may be visible.
Saturday September 7th the 8-day old waxing gibbous Moon will be about 4-5o west from the outer ringed planet Saturn. Just for reference but too dim to be seen is the Dwarf Planet Pluto – located about 6-7o east from Saturn. Then the following night, September 8th ,the Moon will have moved to the east side of Saturn.
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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