Moon and the 7 Sisters

   Sunday evening November 1st the 16-day old waning gibbous Moon will be about 5-6o from the open star cluster the Pleiades, also known as the ‘Seven Sisters’.
   Look for Mars off to the west from the Moon, and Jupiter and Saturn over the southwestern horizon.

   
   
   

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.


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Sun Enters Libra

310ct-view-from-earth Friday 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.


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October Moon at Apogee #2

   Our Moon reaches apogee, (furthest from Earth), for this orbit, on Friday October 30th. For this apogee the 14-day old waxing gibbous Moon will be at a distance of 31.86 Earth diameters, 252,525 miles (406,400 km) from the Earth.

   On the date of the apogee the 14-day old waxing gibbous Moon will be 13-14o from the planet Mars. The Moon will also be about 11o west from the outer planet Uranus, and about 11o east from Dwarf Planet Eris.


   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)
   
   
   
   

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.


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Moon – Mars Conjunction

   Over the next two evenings the 12-13 day old waxing gibbous Moon will pass by the ‘Red Planet’ Mars coming within about 7-8o on Wednesday October 28th and within about 3-4o on Thursday evening October 29th.

   
   
   

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.


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Mercury at Inferior Conjunction

   Sunday October 25th the innermost planet Mercury reaches inferior conjunction. At inferior conjunction Mercury will move between the Earth and the Sun – much like the position of the Moon at new phase. The graphic to the right shows the planet positions relative to the Earth and Sun for both inner planets and outer planets.

   At this inferior conjunction Mercury will not be directly in line with the Earth and the Sun – on the ecliptic. Mercury has an orbital inclination of 7o with respect to the ecliptic. So like our Moon, Mercury during each complete orbit, will cross the plane of the ecliptic moving north (ascending node) and also moving south (descending node). For this inferior conjunction Mercury will be south of the ecliptic, by about 1.91o.

   
   
   

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.


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Moon-Jupiter/Saturn Conjunction

   Thursday October 22nd and Friday October 23rd our Moon will be in conjunction with Jupiter and Saturn. On Thursday the 6.5-day old first quarter Moon will be about 3-4o east from Jupiter. Then, on Friday the 7.5-day old waxing gibbous Moon will be about 11-12o east from Saturn.
   Joining the trio across the horizon toward the east are the planets Neptune and Mars, as well as Dwarf Planet Ceres.

   
   
   

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.


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Sun Not in Scorpius-2020

  According to the pseudoscience of astrology the Sun enters the constellation of Scorpio the Scorpion on Thursday October 22nd. When in fact the actual position of the Sun is still within the boundaries of the constellation of Virgo the Harvest Maiden.

   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.


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Jupiter & Saturn: A Grand Conjunction

   Where were you early in the morning on May 31st 2000? Did you notice two bright star-like objects and a thin waning crescent Moon low over the eastern horizon? As the graphic shows the planets Jupiter and Saturn were paired in a close conjunction. This, however is a special conjunction, one that only occurs about every 20 years between these two planets. This is known as a “Grand Conjunction”.

   And the next “Grand Conjunction” is this year, December 21st, where we will see the two planets low over the western horizon at sunset local time. If the weather or other circumstances keep this conjunction out of view just be patient, really patient.

   The next “Grand Conjunction” following this year is November 5th 2040.

   
   
   

Start a “Grand Conjunction” Watch
   Observe Jupiter and Saturn over the next two months as Jupiter catches up with Saturn. During a conjunction, the objects appear to be close physically, but the objects are just in the same direction in the sky. Lunar conjunctions with planets and some stars close to the ecliptic are relatively common however a conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn, called a ‘Great Conjunction’ only happens approximately every 19.86 years. The two planets follow a repeating pattern of within which constellation the conjunction happens. This year it is within Sagittarius the Archer, in 2041 it will be within Capricornus the Sea-Goat, and then in 2061-62 the Great Conjunction will be within Aries the Ram, which is the start of the repeating pattern.

   Animated graphics are set to 10-day intervals starting with October 22nd.


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.


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October Moon at Descending Node

   Tuesday October 20th the 4-day old waxing crescent Moon crosses 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 date of the descending node the waxing crescent Moon will be over the southwestern horizon at sunset local time. Spread across the horizon from west to east are Jupiter, Saturn, Dwarf Planet Ceres, Neptune, 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.


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Saturn at 2020 Eastern Quadrature

   Sunday October 18th the position of the planet Saturn with respect to the Earth and the Sun places this ringed planet at what is called eastern quadrature. Saturn is at a 90 degree angle from us as this graphic shows. Think first quarter Moon as that is a fair comparison of the relative positions. At this position Saturn follows the Sun across the sky from east to west as the Earth is rotating, meaning that Saturn rises after the Sun and sets after the Sun.

   Where is Saturn now? Saturn is over the southern horizon at sunset and is about 6o east (to the left) from the planet Jupiter. Further east is the Dwarf Planet Ceres, then Neptune, and over the eastern horizon is the still brightly shining Mars.

   
   
   Learn a little (or a lot) more about Saturn by visiting the Cassini at Saturn mission web site. Click here to go to the Cassini Mission web site.

   This is a short 5 minute video I made as part of a live musical performance called “Orbit” that I was part of in May 2011. This is a piece from the much longer tour of the solar system performance and video and shows Saturn and some of its moons as viewed from the Cassini spacecraft that month.

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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.


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