A Tale of Two Phases

   Over the next couple of weeks the two inner planets, Mercury and Venus, will be above the eastern horizon in the hour or two before the Sun rises. Given its much brighter apparent magnitude (-3.92) Venus will be more noticeable. However Mercury (0.03) is only a few degrees away, down to the left as they both rise. This graphic shows the two planets (sizes greatly enlarged for the graphic) and their respective orbital paths. Both planets are moving eastward toward the Sun and will eventually catch up with and move to the opposite side of the Sun, behind the Sun as we view from Earth to their respective superior conjunction.

   As these two planet orbit toward the Sun they pass through phase changes much like our Moon. Currently both planets are waxing gibbous but as they move into superior conjunction they will be at full phase. But unlike our Moon at full phase the inner planets are not visible at their respective full phase. When they do reappear on the east side of the Sun they will be again at gibbous phase, and will be following the Sun across the sky, setting after the Sun as an ‘evening planet’.

   
   

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A Hot Seat? Uranus at Solar Conjunction


   On April 23rd, the outer planet Uranus will be on the opposite side of the Sun at solar conjunction.

   
   
   

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Moon – Jupiter Conjunction

   Tuesday morning April 23rd the 18-day old waning Gibbous Moon will be in a close conjunction with Jupiter as the two are separated by about 1o. The two should make for an interesting view as they both will very easily fit within the field of view of 7×50 binoculars.

   
   
   

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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The Moon and a Dwarf Planet

   Monday morning April 22nd, before the Sun rises, look toward the south-southwest for the 17-day old waning gibbous Moon. While the Moon is obviously easy to see at a -12.60 apparent magnitude, the nearby, (2-3o), dwarf planet Ceres with an apparent magnitude of 6.90 is outshined by the Moon and is not visible.
   As this graphic shows all of the naked-eye visible planets except Mars are arranged from west to east above the horizon. While not naked eye visible Neptune, with an apparent magnitude of 7.94, is also shown. This arrangement of planets then offers an opportunity to visualize the plane of the ecliptic, the Earth’s orbit extended onto the sky. The plane of the ecliptic is one of the primary frames of reference for our solar system, and one of the things the other 7 planets have in common is that their respective orbits are all within about 7o from the plane of the ecliptic. Even our Moon stays within about 6o from the ecliptic.
   
   
   

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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Sun Not in Taurus

April 19th  According to the pseudoscience of astrology the Sun enters the constellation of Taurus the Bull on Saturday April 20th. When in fact the actual position of the Sun on the 19th is within the boundary of the constellation of Aries the Ram, as this graphic shows. Actually the Sun had just entered Aries the day before on April 19th.

   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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Sun Enters Aries

April 19th   Friday April 19th the Sun in its apparent eastward motion along the ecliptic, moves out of the constellation Pisces the Fishes and into the constellation of Aries the Ram. 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.
   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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Virgo, Spica, and the Moon

   Over the next several mornings, April 17th-19th, and before the Sun rises, watch for the Moon to move past the bright bluish-white star Spica in the constellation Virgo the Harvest Maiden. The Moon will be phasing from a 12-day old waxing gibbous Moon on the 17th to a full Moon on the 19th. A few days further on the Moon will be in its waning phases and passing by Jupiter and 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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