Moon – Regulus Conjunction


   Wednesday evening February 28th the nearly full Moon will be within 1-2o from the star Regulus in Leo the Lion.
   Given how close the two will be offers an opportunity to photograph both, or at least enjoy the view through the eyepiece of your choice.

   
   
   

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.

February Moon at Ascending Node

   Wednesday February 28th the waxing 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 Wednesday February 28th the 13-day old waxing gibbous Moon will be within the boundaries of Leo the Lion and about 1-2o from the ‘Heart’ of the Lion, the star Regulus.

   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.

February Moon at Perigee


   Our Moon reaches perigee, (closest distance from Earth), for this orbit on Monday January 1st. At that time the Moon will be at a distance of 28.8 Earth diameters (363,832 km or 226,074 miles) from the Earth making this full Moon the year’s Super Moon.
   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*

   On the day of the perigee Moon the 27-day old waxing gibbous Moon is above the eastern horizon about 1 hour after sunset local time. The Moon is located between the stars Procyon in Canis Minor and Regulus in Leo the Lion.

   *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 go to bobs-spaces.

Moon Gets A Bullish Headbutt

   Friday evening February 23rd the 8-day old waxing gibbous Moon will be about 6o from the reddish star Aldebaran, part of the open star cluster the Hyades. The brighter stars of the Hyades are arranged in a v-shape that is used to represent the face of Taurus the Bull. The point of the V is the Bull’s nose and the reddish star Aldebaran is one of the Bull’s eyes, often depicted as the ‘angry eye’ of the Bull.

   
   
   

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.

Waxing Crescent Moon Near the Pleiades


   Thursday evening February 22nd the 7-day old first quarter Moon will be 8-9o from the open star cluster the Pleiades, and about 7o from the open star cluster the Hyades. With my 10×50 binoculars the two star clusters are just out of the field of view, but become visible with a slight nudge of my head!

   
   
   

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.

Sun Not in Pisces


  According to the pseudoscience of astrology the Sun enters the constellation of Pisces the Fishes on Sunday February 18th. In fact the actual position of the Sun is still within the boundary of the constellation of Aquarius the Water Bearer, as this graphic shows. The Sun had just entered Aquarius 2 days ago.

   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.

Mercury at Superior Conjunction

mercury at superior conjunction
   Saturday February 17th the innermost planet Mercury reaches superior conjunction – on the opposite side of the Sun from the Earth. For those that are curious, Mercury at superior conjunction is approximately 1.384 AU (128,650,837 miles; 207,043,453 km) from the Earth – the combined distance of the Earth to Sun distance plus the radius of Mercury’s orbit.
   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.

Sun Enters Aquarius-2018

feb-view from earth   Friday February 16th the Sun in its apparent eastward motion along the ecliptic, moves out of the constellation Capricornus the Sea Goat and into the constellation of Aquarius the Water Bearer. 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, which will be Sunday February 18th when the sun is not in Pisces according to astrology.

   
   
   

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.

February Moon at Descending Node


   Wednesday February 14th the thin waning 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 28-day old waning crescent Moon will be over the eastern horizon about an hour before the Sun rises. The Moon will reach new phase approximately 24 hours after this node crossing.
   
   
   
      

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.

Mars Meets Antares

   Monday morning February 12th the ‘Red Planet’ Mars will be within about 5o from the reddish star Antares, the heart of Scorpius the Scorpion. Both Mars and Antares currently have the same apparent magnitude of 1.03.
   Antares owes its name to its near matching color of the reddish colored planet Mars. I have often described the name Antares origin as meaning ‘anti mars’, to distinguish the star from the planet. Sort of like saying at times like now when they are close that ‘that reddish object is not Mars’. However the name Antares from the Greek really means ‘equal to Mars’

   This part of the sky, the summer sky for the northern hemisphere, has probably the best view of the Milky Way despite it being early morning. So it is with a great deal of excitement that as Mars approaches Antares and soon Saturn Mars is moving closer to the Milky Way.

   
   
   

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.