Moon on the Move

dec27-30-ani   Over the next few mornings the Moon in its waning crescent phases will have passed by the star bluish-white star Spica in Virgo the Harvest Maiden, the planet Saturn on the 28th and 29th, and by the end of the month the very thin waning crescent Moon will be near the reddish star Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion.
   The path that the Moon follows easteard more or less parallels the ecliptic. As the Moon moves each day it will pass by, sometimes very closely, stars and or planets that are situated along or near the ecliptic. This animated graphic shows the sky at 6:30 am CST (1230 UT) for several days. The ecliptic has been added to show the Moon’s path and the celestial objects near the ecliptic.

7x50 Binoculars View

7×50 Binoculars View.

   Use binoculars or a low-power eyepiece to view the conjunctions. On the morning of 28 December the Moon will be within 1-2 degrees from one of the stars in Libra the Scales, Zubenelgenubi – a great name to use in Scrabble! On historic maps of the constellations this star, now alpha Librae or the brightest star in Libra, was known as the lower or southern pincer of the Scorpion. Zubenelgenubi is believed to be a binary or double star, separated enough such that both stars should be seen using binoculars. Zubenelgenubi has an apparent magnitude of 2.75 while its companion star, alpha1 Librae has an apparent magnitude of around 5.

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.

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