Venus Near Two Open Star Clusters


   Tuesday evening May 1st the inner planet Venus will be between 2-3o from the open star cluster the Hyades, and about 9o from the open star cluster the Pleiades. Both of these open star clusters make up the shoulder and face of Taurus the Bull.

   Venus is close enough to the Hyades and the reddish star Aldebaran so that all will 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.

Moon in Conjunction with Jupiter

   Monday evening April 30th the just past full Moon, waning gibbous, will be rising within 3-4o from the ringed planet Jupiter. Both are located within the constellation of Libra the Scales. Both the Moon and Jupiter will easily fit within a binocular field of view.

   Very close to the Moon is 4th magnitude Gamma Librae – but given the brightness of the Moon that star may be difficult to see.

   
   
   

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 Sunday April 29th Mercury, the innermost planet, will reach its orbital position known as greatest western elongation at 27.0o. 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 just before sunrise local time, 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.

Ceres is at Perihelion

   Friday April 28th Saturday April 28th the closest Dwarf Planet to the Earth, Ceres, reaches perihelion, it’s closest to the Sun this orbit. At perihelion Ceres will be within the boundaries of the constellation Cancer the Crab, and will be approximately 2.56 AU (382,970,549 km; 237,966,866 miles) from the Sun, and 2.33 AU (348,563,038 km; 216,587,031 miles) from the Earth, and ‘shining’ with an apparent magnitude of around 7.50.

    Further east from the location of Ceres is the nearly full Moon about 7-8o from the blue-white star Spica in the constellation Virgo the Harvest Maiden. And rising a little will be the planet Jupiter, and still later Saturn and Mars.


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.

Mars in Conjunction with Pluto

   Thursday morning before sunrise local time the ‘red planet’ Mars will be about 1-2o from the dwarf planet Pluto. Given the difference in distance and magnitude (Mars -0.26; Pluto 14.29) Mars is easy to see with the unaided eye, while Pluto would require a large telescope or a long time exposure to see.

   
   
   

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 and Venus Are in Conjunction – But Not With Each Other


   Tuesday evening April 24th the waxing gibbous Moon will be over the southwest horizon at sunset local time. The Moon will be about 3o from the star Regulus in Leo the Lion. Over the northwestern horizon at the same time will be the planet Venus about 3o from the open star cluster the Pleiades.

   Venus and the Pleiades will easily fit within the field of view of 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.

April Moon at Ascending Node

   Monday April 23rd 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 Monday evening April 23rd the 8-day old waxing gibbous Moon will be within the boundaries of Leo the Lion and about 7o west (right) 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.

Sun Not in astrological Sign of Taurus

April 20th According to the pseudoscience of astrology the Sun enters the constellation of Taurus the Bull on Friday April 20th. When in fact the actual position of the Sun on the 19th is still 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.

April Moon at Perigee


   Our Moon reaches perigee, (closest distance from Earth), for this orbit on Friday April 20th. At that time the Moon will be at a distance of 28.9 Earth diameters (368,714 km or 229,108 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*


   On the day of the perigee Moon the 5-day old waxing crescent Moon is above the western horizon. The Moon is about 5o west (to the left) from the open star cluster, M-35.

   *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.

Sun Enters Astronomical Sign of Aries

April 19th   Thursday 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.