Moon – Hyades Conjunction

   Spoiler Alert: This is an early morning thing! The 21-day old Waning gibbous Moon rises late tonight (September 8th) just before midnight and then will be visible above the horizon through the rest of the morning pre-dawn hours on Wednesday September 9th. During that time the Moon will be passing the open star cluster, the Hyades, and will be about 4-5o from the reddish star Aldebaran in Taurus the Bull. From mythology the v-shaped open star cluster is the face of the Bull while Aldebaran, with its reddish color, represents the ‘angry eye’ of Taurus as it prepares to attack.

   An open star cluster, like the v-shaped Hyades and the dipper-shaped Pleiades make for interesting views using binoculars, and especially when another celestial object passes by.

   
   
   

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The Red Object Tour: From Mars to Aldebaran


   Following a close encounter (conjunction) on September 5th-6th with the ‘Red Planet’ Mars our Moon will orbit eastward waning toward last quarter phase on September 9th. On the 9th the Moon will have a not as close encounter with another red celestial object. This being the reddish star Aldebaran, the ‘angry eye’ of Taurus the Bull.
   Aldebaran is at one of the open ends of the v-shaped open star cluster, the Hyades, the shape making up the Bull’s face.

   You can follow the Moon’s changing daily position with the graphic sequence below.
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   


   
   
   

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Moon – Jupiter/Saturn Conjunctions

   Friday and Saturday evening August 28th and 29th the 9 to 10-day old waxing gibbous Moon will be passing by the outer planets Jupiter and Saturn. On Friday evening the Moon will be about 1-2o from Jupiter and by the same time Saturday evening the Moon will be about 6-7o from Saturn. On either of the evenings the Moon and a planet will fit within the field of view of binoculars.

   
   
   

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Moon on the Move

   Over the course of the next week or so the Moon will be moving eastward across the evening skies as it waxes from crescent toward full Phase on September 1st. This series of graphics shows the sky at 9:00 pm CDT daily until August 30th. Use the graphics as a guide to locating some of the stars near the path the Moon follows, as well as the evenings when the Moon is in conjunction with Jupiter, then Saturn.


   
   
   

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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Virgo Grabs for a Croissant – or is it Crescent?

   Saturday August 22nd the 4-day old waxing crescent Moon will be about 4-5o from the bluish-white star Spica in the constellation Virgo the Harvest Maiden. Spica, from mythology, is described as the bundle of grasses (wheat, oats ?) in her hand – which is appropriate for something representing agriculture.
   Rising in the east is a pair of outer planets, Jupiter and Saturn.

   
   
   

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Moon – Venus Morning Conjunction

   This morning despite clouds and thunderstorms moving through the area there were enough breaks in the clouds that allowed for getting a few pictures of the waning crescent Moon and Venus.

   Following the conjunction with Venus this morning watch tomorrow, Sunday morning August 16th, for the 27-day old waning crescent Moon to have moved further east away from Venus. The Moon will be about 6-7o from the ‘Twin’ star Pollux and a few degrees further from the other ‘Twin’ star Castor.

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

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Moon-Venus-M35 Conjunction

   Saturday morning August 15th the thin 25-day old waning crescent Moon will be about 2-3o from the inner planet Venus, and about 3-4o from the open star cluster M-35. All three are located near the feet of the Gemini Twins.
   The contrast in apparent magnitudes is very striking with the Moon shining at -10.7 compared to the -4.3 apparent magnitude of Venus. M-35, with an apparent magnitude of 5.3 will be difficult if not impossible to see with the bright Moon and Venus nearby. Under other conditions M-35 is visible to the naked-eye under dark skies. All three rise 2-3 hours before sunrise local time and will easily fit within the field of view of binoculars. To see just Venus and M-35 wait until tomorrow after the Moon has moved further east, is a thinner crescent and less bright. However Venus will have also moved a bit more than 1o east as it orbits along.
   If you can see the crescent Moon after sunrise it may even be possible to see Venus during the daytime using the Moon as a guide for where to look.

   
   

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Moon – Aldebaran Conjunction

   Thursday morning August 13th the 24-day old waning crescent Moon will be about 2-3o from the reddish star Aldebaran in Taurus the Bull. Aldebaran is one of the stars making the eyes of the Bull and both of these stars are at the open ends of a v-shaped group of stars. an open star cluster knowns as the Hyades.
   The combination of the stars of the Hyades with the thin waning crescent Moon should make a striking sight through binoculars.

   
   
   

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August Moon at Apogee

   Our Moon reaches apogee, (furthest from Earth), for this orbit, on Sunday August 9th. At that time the last quarter Moon will be at a distance of 31.72 Earth diameters, 251,469 miles (404,700 km) from the Earth.

   On the date of the apogee the 19-day old waning gibbous Moon will be about 1o from the planet Mars and both very visible over the southern horizon in the hours before sunrise.

   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)

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

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Moon – Mars Conjunction

   Early mornings before sunrise the waning gibbous Moon is working its way eastward toward new Moon phase. Along the way the 20-day old waning gibbous Moon will be about 1o from the ‘Red Planet’ Mars on Sunday morning August 9th . Both will fit within the field of view of binoculars and should fit within the field of view of a low-power widefield type telescope eyepiece.
   The contrast in apparent magnitude is quite a range, from the Moon’s -12.0 to the -1.22 apparent magnitude of Mars.

   
   
   

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