Jupiter Closest to Spica – This Time Around

1feb-bino
   Thursday February 2nd the giant gas planet Jupiter will be its closest to the blue-white star Spica in Virgo the Harvest Maiden. The two will be separated by about 3o.

These two graphics show the sky as viewed from Quito Ecuador at 0o latitude, and my home latitude of approximately 40o 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.

Moon Conjunction with Mars and Venus

31jan-bino   Wednesday February 1st the 4-day old waxing crescent Moon will be near the planets Mars and Venus as this simulated view with 10×50 binoculars shows.

   These two graphics show the sky as viewed from Quito Ecuador at 0o latitude, and my home latitude of approximately 40o 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.

January Moon at 2nd Descending Node

(posting this ahead of time – on the road back to Quito and no Internet for a couple of days)

29jan-descending-node
   Sunday January 29th the 2-day old thin waxing crescent 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 2-day old waxing crescent Moon will be over the southwest horizon, below Mars and Venus, at sunset local time. The outer planet Neptune is there but too dim to be seen without some sort of optical assistance.
   These two graphics show the sky as viewed from Quito Ecuador at 0o latitude, and my home latitude of approximately 40o North.   

   
   
   

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.

Mercury Near Pluto

(posting this ahead of time – on the road back to Quito and no Internet for a couple of days)

   Sunday morning January 29th the innermost planet Mercury will be about 1o from the the former outermost planet and now a Dwarf Planet, Pluto. Mercury with an apparent magnitude of -0.18 far outshines the 14.19 apparent magnitude of Pluto.
These two graphics show the sky as viewed from Quito Ecuador at 0o latitude, and my home latitude of approximately 40o 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.

Moon Skips Past Stars and Planets

   Over the next several mornings, January 23rd to 25th the waning crescent Moon will pass by the star Antares, and the planets Saturn, and Mercury as these animated graphics are showing.

   
   
   

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.

January Moon at Apogee

22jan-apogee_moon Our Moon reaches apogee, (greatest distance from Earth), on Sunday January 22nd. At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 31.74 Earth diameters (404,914 km or 251,601 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?”

   On the morning of the apogee Moon the 24-day old waning crescent Moon rises a couple of hours before the Sun and is visible over the southern horizon.

   
   
   

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 Capricorn and Aquarius

ww   Thursday January 19th at 14 UT the Sun in its apparent eastward motion along the ecliptic enters the boundaries of the constellation Capricorn the Sea Goat. This is the true or actual position of the Sun. However 7 hours later, at 21 UT, according to the pseudoscience of astrology, the Sun,will enter the constellation of Aquarius the Water Bearer.

   
   
   

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 Western Elongation

19jan-mercury-east-elongation
   On Thursday January 19th Mercury, the innermost planet, will reach its orbital position known as greatest western elongation at 24.1o. At that moment Mercury, the Sun, and the Earth, would be arranged in something close to approximating a right angle as this graphic shows. Even though it sounds confusing at western elongation for either Mercury or Venus the inner planet will be to the right of the Sun as we view them, meaning that at western elongation an inner planet rises in the east before the Sun rises. And at eastern elongation with the inner planet on the left side of the Sun the inner planet follows the Sun across the sky setting after the Sun sets.
orbital-positions
   From our perspective the orbits of Mercury and Venus appear to move from one side of the Sun to the other – out to the left (east) from the Sun to eastern elongation, then reverse and move westward (inferior conjunction) between the Earth and the Sun to western elongation. From there the inner planet moves eastward going behind the Sun (superior conjunction) and eventually reappearing on the eastern side of the Sun for an eastern elongation. Repeat over and over – do not stop!
   Mercury is visible in the morning skies before sunrise as these graphics show.


   
   
   
   
   

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 Jupiter and Spica


   Thursday January 19th morning several hours before sunrise local time the last quarter Moon will be within a few degrees from Jupiter and the blue-white star Spica in Virgo the Harvest Maiden.
This graphic simulates a view using 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.

January Moon at Ascending Node

15jan-ascending-node   Sunday January 15th the waning gibbous 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 January 15th the 16-day old waning gibbous Moon will come within about 1o from the star Regulus in Leo the Lion.

   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.