Moon – Jupiter Conjunction

   Tuesday morning April 23rd the 18-day old waning Gibbous Moon will be in a close conjunction with Jupiter as the two are separated by about 1o. The two should make for an interesting view as they both will very easily fit within the field of view of 7×50 binoculars.

   
   
   

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The Moon and a Dwarf Planet

   Monday morning April 22nd, before the Sun rises, look toward the south-southwest for the 17-day old waning gibbous Moon. While the Moon is obviously easy to see at a -12.60 apparent magnitude, the nearby, (2-3o), dwarf planet Ceres with an apparent magnitude of 6.90 is outshined by the Moon and is not visible.
   As this graphic shows all of the naked-eye visible planets except Mars are arranged from west to east above the horizon. While not naked eye visible Neptune, with an apparent magnitude of 7.94, is also shown. This arrangement of planets then offers an opportunity to visualize the plane of the ecliptic, the Earth’s orbit extended onto the sky. The plane of the ecliptic is one of the primary frames of reference for our solar system, and one of the things the other 7 planets have in common is that their respective orbits are all within about 7o from the plane of the ecliptic. Even our Moon stays within about 6o from the ecliptic.
   
   
   

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An Inner Planet Get Together

   Tuesday morning April 16th before the Sun rises watch for the two inner planets Mercury and Venus to be rising together and separated by about 3-4o. Both planets will easily fit within the field of view of 7×50 binoculars.
   Compare the apparent magnitude of Venus, -3.93 with the 0.22 apparent magnitude of Mercury.

   This is the closest the two will come to each other but Mercury and Venus will be visible above the horizon for the rest of the month and into May. Both planets are moving eastward along their respective orbital paths. This animated graphic is set to 1-day intervals from April 16th to April 30th.

   
   
   

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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Moon – Ceres Conjunction

   Tuesday morning March 26th the 20-day old waning gibbous Moon will be about 4o from Dwarf Planet Ceres, and about 10o from the reddish star Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion. Further east from the Moon is the planet Jupiter and is near where the Moon will be tomorrow.

   
   
   

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March Moon at Apogee

   Our Moon reaches apogee, (greatest distance from Earth), on Monday March 4th. At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 31.86 Earth diameters 252,520 miles (406,391 km) from the Earth.

   Does our Moon actually go around the Earth? 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*

   On the day of the apogee the 27.5-day old very thin waning crescent Moon will be over the southeastern horizon 30-60 minutes before sunrise local time.

*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.


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Moon Conjunction with Dwarf Planet Ceres, then the Next Day with Jupiter

   In the hour or so before the Sun rises on the morning of February 26th look for the 21-day old last quarter Moon to be about 3-4o from the Dwarf Planet Ceres. Realize, however, that seeing Ceres is not really possible given that Ceres has an apparent magnitude of between 7th to 8th, while the last Quarter Moon has an apparent magnitude between -11th to -12th.
   In any case, on the morning of the 27th look for the 22-day old waning crescent Moon to be about 1-2o from the outer planet Jupiter.


   
   
   

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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Twin Conjunctions

click on graphic to see it larger   Monday February 18th the inner planet Venus will be about 1o from the outer planet Saturn as both rise a couple of hours before the Sun rises. The two will make for an interesting view with binoculars.

   Also, on Monday February 18th the 14-day old waxing gibbous Moon will be about 7-8o to the west from the star Regulus in the constellation Leo the Lion. The following day, February 19th, the full Moon will be about the same distance from Regulus but now on the east side. Both rise in the late afternoon about 2 hours before the Sun sets.

   
   
   

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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