April Moon at Perigee

   The Moon reaches perigee, (minimum distance from Earth), this month on Friday March 3rd. At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 28.17 Earth diameters (359,327 km or 223,275 miles) from the Earth.

   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*

   On the day of the perigee Moon the 1.5-day young thin waxing crescent Moon is above the western horizon at sunset local time and is near Dwarf Planet Ceres and the Pleiades open star cluster.

   *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 go to bobs-spaces.

Taurus Takes It On The Chin!


   Friday evening March 31st the 4-day old waxing crescent Moon will be about 4o from the reddish star Aldebaran in the open star cluster The Hyades. This open star cluster has a noticeable v-shape and from mythology the v-shape is the face of Taurus the Bull. Over the course of several hours as the Moon continues moving eastward along its orbit the Moon will pass across the v-shape and will be less than one-half degree from Aldebaran.
   
   
   
click on animated graphic to see it larger
   From my longitude this part of the sky will have set but observers in parts of north Africa, India, and that part of the world may be able to see an occultation of Aldebaran by the Moon. This animated graphic shows the Moon’s motion from 9 pm CDT 31 March to 5 am CDT 1 April (2 UT 1 April to 9 UT 1 April).
   
   
   
   
   

   The point of the v-shape is the bull’s nose while the two stars at the open end, Aldebaran and Epsilon Taurus mark the bull’s eyes. To the right, west, from the Moon is another open star cluster The Pleiades.

   
   
   

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.

A Lunar Conjunction with a Dwarf Planet


   Thursday evening March 2nd watch for the 4.5-day young waxing crescent Moon to be about 2o away from Dwarf Planet Ceres. Seeing Ceres with an apparent magnitude of around 8 may be difficult when the Moon is this close, especially using binoculars. 2march-tele
   However with a telescope Ceres should resolve into a small disc shape as this simulated view with a 25mm eyepiece on a 6″ reflector shows. There are two 6th magnitude stars on either side of Ceres that could be used as reference points for Ceres location if you are following the Dwarf Planet as it moves along its orbit.

   
   
   
   
   

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, Mars, and Uranus


   After sunset on Wednesday evening March 1st watch for the 3.5-day young waxing crescent Moon to be within about 5o from Mars and Uranus.

   
   
   

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.

Crescent Moon, Venus, and Comet Encke


   Tuesday evening February 28th the 2.5-day young waxing crescent Moon will be about 9o from the inner planet Venus and about the same distance from Comet Encke (2P).
   Mars and Venus as well as three Dwarf Planets are also above the horizon at sunset local time as the graphic is showing.
   
   
   

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.

Uranus Sees Red!


   Sunday February 26th the ‘Red Planet’ Mars will be about 0.5o from the outer planet Uranus. Mars has an apparent magnitude of 1.28 while the much larger but considerably more distant Uranus has an apparent magnitude of 5.88. Despite the large difference in magnitudes both planets should be visible as small dot shapes in binoculars and with even more detail through a telescope eyepiece.

   
   
   

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.

ISS Last Night

   Last evening was my first opportunity to see the ISS in at least a month so I quickly set up my camera aiming it toward Venus and Mars. However my aim was off by quite a bit so I hurriedly readjusted the camera, 3 times, to capture these pictures. All were taken with ISO 800; F5; 18mm; 2.5 second. Pictures were stacked, merged, using Starstax.

   
   
   

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.