Wednesday morning December 5th the very thin 28-day old waning crescent Moon will be within 4-5o from the innermost planet Mercury. Venus shines very brightly above or west from the Moon. About an hour after the Moon and Mercury have risen the outer planet Jupiter will rise above the eastern horizon.
Our Moon reaches perigee, (closest distance to Earth), for this orbit on Monday November 26th. At that time the Moon will be at a distance of 28.74 Earth diameters 227,809 miles (366,623 km) from the Earth.
The 18-day old Waning gibbous rises after sunset and is visible all night between the Gemini Twin stars and the bright star Capella in Canis Minor. Off to the east is the inner planet Venus shining brightly with an apparent magnitude of -4.6, and within about 4o from the blue-white star Spica (0.9 apparent magnitude) in Virgo the Harvest Maiden. About 10o east from Venus is the closest Dwarf Planet, Ceres. With an apparent magnitude of 8.0 Ceres is not visible to the unaided eye.
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)
Read this very informative article about the Earth-Moon system and their orbital motions, written by Joe Hanson. “Do We Orbit the Moon?”
Tuesday November 6th the 28-day old very thin waning crescent Moon will be near the inner planet Venus, the star Spica in Virgo the Harvest Maiden, and Dwarf Planet Ceres as they all rise an hour or so before sunrise. The waning crescent Moon has an apparent magnitude of -8.55 compared with Venus apparent magnitude of -4.32, Spica with an apparent magnitude of 0.96, and Dwarf Planet Ceres with an apparent magnitude of 8.18.
Sunday October 7th Dwarf Planet Ceres reaches solar opposition – on the opposite side of the Sun as (not) seen from Earth.
Dwarf Planet Ceres, formerly classified as an asteroid, is the largest member of the inner asteroid belt. Read and learn more about the closest Dwarf Planet to Earth.
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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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.
Wednesday evening August 15th the 4.5-day old waxing crescent Moon will be about 7o from the blue-white star Spica in Virgo the Harvest Maiden.
In addition to the Moon are five planets spread out from west to east – Dwarf Planet Ceres, and the planets Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars.
Friday August 3rd all of the planets, except for Mercury, and some of the Dwarf Planets will be over the horizon during the hours before sunrise and the hours before sunset. The dwarf planets Pluto (14.2), Haumea (17.2), Makemake (16.7), and Eris(18.5) with low apparent magnitudes are too distant to be visible other than with larger aperture telescopes. However Dwarf Planet Ceres, at 8th magnitude could be visible with smaller telescopes and certainly with long exposure time imaging.