Ceres is at Perihelion

   Friday April 28th Saturday April 28th the closest Dwarf Planet to the Earth, Ceres, reaches perihelion, it’s closest to the Sun this orbit. At perihelion Ceres will be within the boundaries of the constellation Cancer the Crab, and will be approximately 2.56 AU (382,970,549 km; 237,966,866 miles) from the Sun, and 2.33 AU (348,563,038 km; 216,587,031 miles) from the Earth, and ‘shining’ with an apparent magnitude of around 7.50.

    Further east from the location of Ceres is the nearly full Moon about 7-8o from the blue-white star Spica in the constellation Virgo the Harvest Maiden. And rising a little will be the planet Jupiter, and still later Saturn and Mars.


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.

Mars in Conjunction with Pluto

   Thursday morning before sunrise local time the ‘red planet’ Mars will be about 1-2o from the dwarf planet Pluto. Given the difference in distance and magnitude (Mars -0.26; Pluto 14.29) Mars is easy to see with the unaided eye, while Pluto would require a large telescope or a long time exposure to see.

   
   
   

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.

November Moon at Ascending Node

   Friday November 10th the last quarter 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 November 10th the 22-day old last quarter Moon will be within the boundaries of Cancer the Crab and about 2-3o from M-44 the Beehive open star Cluster, and about 6o from Dwarf Planet Ceres.

   The three are close enough for all to 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*

*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.

Ceres Gets Buzzed

   Tuesday morning October 17th the Dwarf Planet Ceres will be within about 3o from M-44, the open star cluster commonly known as the Beehive Cluster. Both will easily fit within the field of view of binoculars and with some careful observation Ceres at 8th magnitude might be identified just to the left from M-44 which appears as a 4th magnitude ‘smudge’ of light.

   
   
   

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.

Waning Crescent Moon Near Dwarf Planet Ceres, and M-44

   Friday morning October 13th, in the hours before sunrise, look toward the eastern horizon for the 23-day old waning crescent Moon to be about 15o east, to the left from the star Procyon (0.37 apparent magnitude). The Moon will also be to the west, right, about 4o from the open star cluster M-44, the Beehive Cluster, and about 6o from Dwarf Planet Ceres.

   The above graphic is set for 3:30 am CDT and not shown in that graphic are the planets Venus and Mars. You may see them here in this graphic set for two hours later – 6:30 am CDT.

   
   
   

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.

Moon Gets Stung – Sort of


   Saturday morning September 16th the thin waning crescent Moon will be 2-3o from the open star cluster M-44, or as it more commonly known the Beehive Cluster. This should make for a great view using 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.

Moon – Dwarf Planet Ceres Conjunction

   Friday morning September 15th the waning crescent Moon will be within about 6o from the dwarf planet Ceres. Ceres should be just visible with binoculars with an apparent magnitude of between 7th and 8th. Within the binocular field of view, about 3o above Ceres is 3rd magnitude kappa Geminorum. And about 5o from Ceres is the star Pollux, one of the ‘Twin’ stars in Gemini the Twins.

   
   
   

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.