Visualize the Ecliptic

Above the Terrestrial Planets this Month

   Once in a while the planets are arranged such that they are spread across the sky. The planets are not lined up in a straight line outward from the Sun but rather are arranged along the ecliptic. The ecliptic is the Earth’s orbital path around the Sun and the respective orbit of each planet is inclined from the ecliptic. And this is one of those times when it is easier to visualize the ecliptic. (see graphics below) Click here to read a previous posting about the ecliptic and planet inclination.

   As the animated graphic is showing the terrestrial planets are not arranged in a straight line. This graphic shows the solar system out to Neptune and from this perspective the planets are obviously not in a straight line.


   
   
   

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Sun Does Enter Libra – 2019

310ct-view-from-earth   Thursday October 31st the Sun in its apparent eastward motion along the ecliptic, moves out of the constellation Virgo the Harvest Maiden and into the constellation of Libra the Scales. This is the true or actual position of the Sun as opposed to the pseudoscience of astrology which usually has the astrological Sun one constellation ahead or east from the Astronomical Sun’s position.

   Read a little more about how astrology has the Sun incorrectly placed in a previous blog, and in another blog discussing the effects of precession.
   
   
   

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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Two Conjunctions this Evening

   Thursday evening October 31st look toward the western horizon but not for trick or treaters. Rather look for the two inner planets to be within about 2-3o from each other, and a bit further eastward for the Moon to be about 4-5o from Jupiter. Also the Dwarf Planet Ceres is within 3-4o from the crescent Moon. However Ceres is at 8th as compared with Jupiter at -2.0 and the crescent Moon at -11.0 apparent magnitudes. And before anyone asks Venus is at -3.9 and Mercury at 0.63 apparent magnitude.
   Each of the pairs will easily fit within the field of view of 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.


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Crescent Moon Near Venus and Mercury

   Tuesday evening October 29th a very thin 2-day young waxing crescent Moon will be about 4-5o from the two inner planets Mercury and Venus. All three will easily fit within the field of view of binoculars – however be careful as they are not that far from the setting Sun.

   Over the next several days as the Moon waxes toward first quarter phase the Moon will pass by the Dwarf Planet Ceres and the outer planet Jupiter and 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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Uranus at Opposition – 2019

view-from-uranus
   Monday October 28th the outer planet Uranus reaches a position in its orbit around the Sun when it is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun. This coincidentally is known as opposition, and it is an orbital position which only the planets further from the Sun than the Earth may reach.

   At opposition the outer planet rises and sets in a fashion similar to our Moon when it is at full phase, in that the outer planet at opposition rises at sunset and sets at sunrise.

   On the date of the opposition Uranus will be over the eastern horizon after sunset and currently with an apparent magnitude of between 5 an 6 Uranus may be visible with binoculars and certainly with a telescope.

   
   
   

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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One-Half Century!

   This year, but fifty years ago on a small Air Force base in south Texas I met a young lady who has been my sidekick, the “lift for my wings”, since then. Today is a very special day in that relationship as today marks our 50th wedding anniversary. Despite the passage of one-half century the evening skies on this date are not too different from those of 50 years ago.

                    50 Years together:

   
   
   

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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October Moon at Perigee

   Our Moon reaches perigee, (closest distance to Earth), for this orbit, on Saturday October 26rd. At that time the Moon will be at a distance of 28.75 Earth diameters, 224,511 miles (361,316 km) from the Earth.

   On the day of the perigee Moon the 27.5-day old very thin waning crescent Moon will be over the eastern horizon rising within about 5-6o from the planet Mars. Both will be rising about 1 hour before the Sun so it may be difficult to see them.
   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)

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to go to bobs-spaces.


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