Crossing The Border – No Wall Needed

   Tuesday November 1st the innermost planet, Mercury, crosses the ‘border’ (the ecliptic) moving south toward its greatest southern declination next month on December 1st. All planets with an orbital tilt, or inclination, relative to the Earth’s orbit (the plane of the ecliptic) will cross the border at two points along their respective orbital path.
    These intersections between the ecliptic and a planets orbital path are called nodes, and Mercury is an example of a planet at its descending node. The opposite of this is the ascending node. With either node the planet has a range of ‘travel’ relative to the ecliptic that takes it to a north or south maximum separation from the ecliptic measured in degrees.
   Venus, for example, reaches its greatest southern declination on the 22nd. This is significant, if you are into this sort of thing, because with a southerly declination and its current orbital path Venus will pass by M-8, the Lagoon Nebula on the 8th as illustrated with this graphic showing a view with 10×50 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.

October Moon at Apogee

31oct-apogee_moon
   Our Moon reaches apogee, (greatest distance from Earth), on Monday October 31st. At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 31.88 Earth diameters (406,662 km or 252,688 miles) 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?”


   
   The just past new Moon, a 1.25-day old waxing crescent Moon, is close to the Sun and sets within an hour after sunset.

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to go to bobs-spaces.

Sun Enters Libra

310ct-view-from-earth   Sunday October 30th the Sun in its apparent eastward motion along the ecliptic, moves out of the constellation Virgo the Harvest Maiden and into the constellation of Libra the Scales. 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.

Venus and Saturn Conjunction

   Saturday evening October 29th the inner planet Venus will be within a few degrees from the outer planet, Saturn. Venus is currently moving eastward away from the Sun and setting a little later each evening. Saturn is also moving eastward but at a slower pace than the the apparent eastward movement of the Sun so, unlike Venus, Saturn will set earlier each evening.

   
   
   

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.

Thin Waning Crescent Moon Near Jupiter


   Friday morning October 28th the 27.5-day old waning crescent Moon will be within 1o from the planet Jupiter and a little closer to Porrima, a 3.4 magnitude star in the constellation of Virgo.

   
   
   
   
   
   

   This is another of those opportunities to see a thin crescent shape Moon, and in this case a Moon that is less than 20 hours from its new phase. With binoculars or a wide field eyepiece this view should be an interesting sight.

   
   
   

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.

Mercury at Superior Conjunction

mercury at superior conjunction   Thursday November 27th the innermost planet Mercury reaches superior conjunction – on the opposite side of the Sun from the Earth.
   Mercury is not visible while in conjunction with the Sun but within the next week or so Mercury will reappear on the east side of the Sun and start becoming visible over the western horizon at sunset.

   
   
   

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.

Venus and Saturn Near Antares


   Wednesday evening October 26th the inner planet Venus will be within a few degrees from Saturn and the reddish star Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion. All three will nearly fill the field of view in 10×50 binoculars as this graphic shows.

   
   
   

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.

October Moon at Ascending Node

26oct-ascending-node   Wednesday October 26th the waning crescent Moon will be crossing the plane of the ecliptic moving north relative to the ecliptic. This is known as the ascending node, one of two intersections the Moon’s orbital path has with the ecliptic. The ecliptic is actually the Earth’s orbit and the Moon’s orbit is inclined about 6o from the ecliptic. So there are two node intersections, the ascending and descending nodes.

   On the morning of the 26ththe Moon will rise as a thin 26-day old waning crescent Moon.

   Does our Moon actually go around the Earth as many graphics show? 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?”

   
   
   

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.

And the Lion Leaped Over the Moon

   Monday and Tuesday mornings October 24th and 25th the Moon in its waning crescent phases is nearly pawed by Leo the Lion as the Moon passes past the heart of the Lion, the star Regulus. This animated graphic shows the sky for the pre-dawn mornings of the 24th and 25th and the position of the Moon on either side of Regulus.
   
   
   

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.

Moon Near a Beehive


   Very early Sunday morning October 23rd the 22-day old last quarter Moon will be a few degrees from the open star cluster M-44, or commonly known as the ‘Beehive Cluster‘. This should make for an interesting sight with binoculars despite the reflected light from the Moon.

   If you are not a late night observer but like me an early morning observer then the Moon will still be close to M-44 before sunrise. However at that time look south-southeast and high above the horizon. To the right is Procyon in Canis Minor and above the Moon are the ‘Twins’ Pollux and Castor.

   
   
   

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.