Saturday October 20th is International Observe the Moon Night. That evening the 12-day old waxing gibbous Moon rises around 5 pm local time and will be over the southeast horizon during the evening hours. Joining the Moon are several planets – all located to the west, right, from the Moon. Early, shortly after sunset the inner planet Mercury will be just above the western horizon. Moving east from Mercury is Jupiter, then Saturn, then Mars. The planet Neptune is only a few degrees above the Moon but because of the Moon’s reflected light Neptune will not be visible.
This morning (17 September) was another morning with clear skies and another chance at catching the ISS as it orbited overhead. This time the ISS came out of the northwest and reached around 70o above the horizon as it headed southeastward. It passed by the open star clusters the Pleiades and the Hyades and then passed below and parallel to the belt of Orion toward Sirius where the ISS disappeared behind some trees.
This picture is made from 22 stacked pictures.
Sunday September 16th the first quarter Moon will be about 8o west from the outer planet Saturn. Then the following evening, Monday the 17th, as the Moon continues orbiting eastward, the waxing gibbous Moon will be within 3-4o from Saturn, but on the east side of Saturn.
This graphic, without the added correction, cropped up again by way of a text message asking if the picture was correct. So I made the graphic below to show how the sky would look at the time and date indicated on the graphic.
In reality all one has to do is go outside and look at the Moon and Mars to prove that this urban legend like any is not correct.
The sky at 12:30 am CDT August 27th
Over the next two evenings, Monday August 20th, and Tuesday the 21st, the waning gibbous Moon will pass within about 8-10o from the planet Saturn.
Joining the Moon and Saturn are the planets Venus, Jupiter, Mars, and Dwarf Planet Ceres.
Over the next two evenings, Saturday August 18th, and Sunday the 19th, the waning gibbous Moon will pass within about 8-10o from the reddish star Antares, the ‘heart’ of Scorpius the Scorpion.
Joining the Moon and Jupiter are the planets Venus, Saturn, Mars, and Dwarf Planet Ceres.
Before sunrise on Saturday August 11th, Sunday August 12th, and Monday August 13th look toward the east and southeast for ‘shooting stars’, or meteors. The short-lived streaks of light are radiating outward from the area of the constellation Perseus the Hero. These are the annual Perseids – one of the best meteor showers each year. And these three days are centered more or less on the peak.
The Perseid Meteor Shower is named for the constellation from where the meteors radiate outward. This is the same for all meteor showers, and the ‘spot’ in the sky is known as the radiant. The Perseid radiant, as shown in the graphic, is within the Perseus constellation, and under ideal viewing conditions (dark and moonless skies) an average of about 60-80 meteors per hour could possibly be seen. This year without the interference of moonlight will increase the chances of seeing the meteors.
The peak for this year’s Perseids is Monday September 13th at 1 UT (8 pm CDT) however Perseus and the radiant rise at around 11 pm local time. A couple of hours later should be high enough over the horizon to become visible. I always look for a triangle made from using the Pleiades open star cluster, the bright star Capella in the constellation Auriga, and a not as bright star, Mirfak in Perseus. The radiant is up to the left from Mirfak as the graphic shows.
Best viewing times for seeing the Perseids are early morning a few hours before sunrise after Perseus has risen. This is an ideal time as the part of Earth you are viewing from is rotating toward the east, in the direction the Earth is revolving around the Sun. This means you will be seeing metaors ‘head-on’ as the enter the atmosphere.
Meteor showers result from the Earth’s orbital path intersecting areas of comet debris. Comets, as they orbit the Sun, leave behind pieces of their icy, dirty, selves. If these debris clouds happen to be along the Earth’s orbital path then the Earth will regularly pass through the comet debris cloud. As this happens the small comet pieces hit our outer atmosphere and vaporize from the friction generated heat. We then see these as the shooting stars that make up meteor showers.