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.
   
   
   

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, Spica, and the Moon

   Over the next several mornings, April 17th-19th, and before the Sun rises, watch for the Moon to move past the bright bluish-white star Spica in the constellation Virgo the Harvest Maiden. The Moon will be phasing from a 12-day old waxing gibbous Moon on the 17th to a full Moon on the 19th. A few days further on the Moon will be in its waning phases and passing by Jupiter and 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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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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Planets Line Up in the Morning Skies

   Starting Monday April 1st, and continuing for a couple of weeks there will be an arrangement of 5 planets over the eastern to southern horizon in the hour or so before the Sun rises. Of these Neptune is the only one not bright enough to be visible to the unaided eye.

The Planets at 10-day Intervals During April
   The basic organization of our solar system is to have the other 7 planets follow orbits close to the plane of the ecliptic, and given how these planets are arranged and appear from the Earth this month makes it easy to visualize the ecliptic. This ‘view from above’ animated graphic shows the planets at 1-day intervals during April.

   
   
   

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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March Moon at Descending Node #2

   Friday March 29th the Moon will be crossing the plane of the ecliptic moving south. This is known as the descending node, one of two intersections the Moon’s orbital path (dark green line) has with the ecliptic.
29 March 6 am CDT   On the day of the node crossing the 23-day old waning crescent Moon will be over the southeast horizon rising about 1-2 hours before the Sun rises. Toward the west from the Moon will be the outer ringed-planet Jupiter, and a bit further west the dwarf planet Ceres. About 4o east from the Moon is the outer ringed-planet Saturn. Both of these will easily fit within the field of view of 7×50 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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Moon – Saturn Conjunction

   Thursday morning March 28th, and Friday morning March 29th the first quarter and waning crescent Moon, respectively, pass by the outer ringed giant planet, Saturn, coming within about 8o on Thursday and about 4o on Friday from 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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