February Moon At Ascending Node

   Sunday February 17th the 13-day old 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 the day of the node crossing the 13-day old waxing gibbous Moon rises about an hour after sunset local time.

   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.


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Sun Enters Capricornus – Not Aquarius

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 Sunday January 20th at 2 UT the Sun in its apparent eastward motion along the ecliptic enters the boundaries of the constellation Capricornus the Sea Goat. This is the actual location of the Sun.
   Interestingly, according to the pseudoscience of astrology, 7 hours later, at 9 UT Sunday January 20th, the Sun should be entering 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.

Venus and Jupiter in Motion

   If the morning skies are clear and the temperature is tolerable go out before sunrise local time and look toward the east. The two brightest stellar objects are the planets Venus (brightest) and Jupiter. A few degrees from Jupiter is the reddish star Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion. Dwarf Planet Ceres is also in this part of the sky but it is too dim to be seen with the unaided eye. As the graphic shows this is also near the Milky Way but seeing that would require much darker skies than many of us live under.

   Both planets are in motion as they orbit the Sun following their respective orbital path. As an inner planet and much closer to the Sun Venus moves more quickly than Jupiter so as days pass Venus will noticeable move more so than Jupiter. Venus was at its western elongation last month and now Venus is in the part of its orbit where it is moving eastward toward the Sun. As Venus moves in that direction Venus will catch up to and then pass Jupiter, coming the closest on January 23rd.
   The animated graphic is set for 1-day intervals from January 15th to January 31st.
   For comparison Venus moves 1.6o each day while Jupiter moves 0.083o each day. The Earth is also in motion and moves about 1.0o each day. So as the Earth moves the sky appears to move toward the west and as this happens Saturn comes into view toward the end of January. The waning crescent Moon shows up also at the end of the month.

   
   
   

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 and the Hyades

   Wednesday and Thursday January 16th and the 17th the waning gibbous Moon will be passing past the open star cluster the Hyades and the reddish star Aldebaran. This is a v-shaped group of stars that make up the face of Taurus the Bull. The Hyades is one of two open star clusters in the constellation Taurus. The other is a small dipper-shaped group of stars, the Pleiades, located on the shoulder of Taurus.

   
   
   

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 – Uranus Conjunction

   Monday evening January 14th the 9-day old waxing gibbous Moon will be about 6-7o from the outer planet Uranus. Both are close enough to fit within a binocular field of view.
   However don’t realistically expect to see Uranus as Uranus has an apparent magnitude of 5.78 compared to the much brighter -12.0 apparent magnitude of 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.


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Moon – Mars Conjunction

   Saturday evening January 12th, after sunset, the 7-day old waxing crescent Moon will be about 4o from the planet Mars. The two 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.


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Crescent Moon and Jupiter Follow-Up

   This morning, January 3rd on my way to the gym I paused along Highway 50 and then near the small lake by the gym for a couple of pictures of the waning crescent Moon, Jupiter, and Venus.

   
   
   

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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