Tuesday June 18th at around midnight local time the just past full Moon will be rising over the eastern horizon near the ringed planet Saturn. The two will be separated by about 0.5o and will fit nicely within the field of view of binoculars or the eyepiece of a telescope..
Over the next several evenings (June 14th through the 16th) the Moon, as it waxes through its gibbous phase, will pass by the Dwarf Planet Ceres and the outer giant planet Jupiter. The Moon will be about 5-6o from Ceres as it passes from the west side to the east side of the Dwarf Planet. Then it will be about 5-6o from Jupiter as it moves from the west side to the east side of the Jupiter.
Monday June 10th the outer giant ringed planet Jupiter reaches the point in its orbit around the Sun that places the Earth in between Jupiter and the Sun. This is known as opposition, and opposition is an orbital position that applies to solar system objects (outer planets, dwarf planets, asteroids, comets, etc.) orbiting the Sun beyond the Earth’s orbit. An object at opposition will have approximately the same heliocentric longitude as the Earth’s heliocentric longitude. So on Tuesday both planets will have a heliocentric longitude of around 228o.
An opposition of Jupiter occurs approximately every 13 months because both Earth and Jupiter are moving. After one Earth Revolution, an Earth year, the planet Earth will be where it was the previous year at opposition with Jupiter. However Jupiter will not be there because it has moved during the past year as well. It will take the Earth about an extra month or so to catch up with Jupiter. Earth moves 360o each year while Jupiter moves approximately 12o each Earth year.
Sunset Local Time.
When an object is at opposition it rises at approximately the same time as local sunset and that same object at opposition sets at approximately the time of local sunrise. In other words an object at opposition will be up all night from sunrise to sunset.
Picture our Moon at full phase and how it is directly opposite the Sun, with the Earth in between. The full Moon in effect is at opposition but we call it the full Moon instead. And so both the full Moon and Jupiter at opposition, rise at sunset, set at sunrise, and both will be visible all night.
Take a brief tour of the Jovian (Jupiter) system. Music by Dark Matter.
Live recording of music written by Richard Johnson. Video by me!
Sunday morning June 9th the inner planet Venus will be a few degrees from the open star cluster known as the Pleiades. Both Venus and the Pleiades rise about an hour before sunrise local time and both will fit within the field of view of binoculars.
Friday June 8th the 5.60-day old waxing crescent Moon will be within about 2o from Regulus, the star marking the heart of Leo the Lion. Both will be visible high over the southern horizon at sunset local time.
Thursday evening June 6th the 3.70-day old waxing crescent Moon will be within about 4o from the open star cluster M-44, or more commonly known as the “Beehive Cluster”. Despite the crescent Moon’s apparent magnitude of -10.0 it should be possible to still see the Beehive Cluster dimly ‘glowing’ with its 3.50 apparent magnitude in the field of view of binoculars.
Wednesday June 5th the 5-day old waxing crescent 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 2.70-day old waxing crescent Moon is over the southwestern horizon at sunset local time and is 4-5o from the planet Mars. Both will easily fit within the field of view of binoculars.
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*
Read this very informative article about the Earth-Moon system and their orbital motions, written by Joe Hanson. “Do We Orbit the Moon?”