October Moon at Ascending Node

   Thursday October 4th the waning crescent 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 the day of the node crossing the 26-day old thin waning crescent Moon will be about 1o from the open star cluster known as the ‘Beehive Cluster’, M-44. Given that the Moon has an apparent magnitude of 14.0 compared with the 4th magnitude of the Beehive Cluster it may be difficult to see the star cluster.

   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?”

   
   
   

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Moon in a Face-Off with Taurus


   Sunday September 30th the 20-day old waning gibbous Moon will be within 1-2o from the reddish star Aldebaran in the open star cluster the Hyades. The Hyades are a v-shaped group of stars making up the face of Taurus the Bull.
Aldebaran is at the tip of one of the
lines making up the v-shape and, with its reddish color, represents the ‘angry eye’ of the Bull.
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

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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Asteroid Vesta Passes Saturn

   For the next several evenings Asteroid Vesta will be passing within 2-3o from the outer planet Saturn. Currently Vesta is only a couple of months past opposition, June 20th, and is still bright enough to be seen and followed as its position relative to Saturn slowly changes each evening. Saturn has an apparent magnitude of 0.47 while Asteroid Vesta has an apparent magnitude of 7.0.

   With binoculars Vesta is visible under dark enough skies and with careful observation and a star map of that area the motion of Vesta may be followed. In that same general area, within the field of view of 10×50 binoculars, at least 3 Messier objects may also be seen. The Lagoon Nebula, M-8; The Trifid Nebula, M-20; and open star cluster, M-21.
   This animated graphic shows a binocular view of Saturn and Vesta each day from September 25th to the 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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ISS, Taurus and Orion

   This morning (17 September) was another morning with clear skies and another chance at catching the ISS as it orbited overhead. This time the ISS came out of the northwest and reached around 70o above the horizon as it headed southeastward. It passed by the open star clusters the Pleiades and the Hyades and then passed below and parallel to the belt of Orion toward Sirius where the ISS disappeared behind some trees.
   This picture is made from 22 stacked pictures.

   
   
   

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Taurus Noses the Moon

   Monday morning August 6th the 24-day old waning crescent Moon will be about 4o from the reddish star Aldebaran, part of the open star cluster the Hyades. This v-shaped cluster of stars marks the face of Taurus the Bull, and Aldebaran represents the red ‘angry’ eye of Taurus.

   
   
   

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Waning Crescent Moon in Close Conjunction with Aldebaran

   Tuesday July 10th in the hour or so before sunrise local time the very thin 26.5-day old waning crescent Moon will be within about 1o (width of 2 full Moons) from the reddish star Aldebaran in the open star cluster the Hyades. The Hyades are a v-shaped group of stars marking the face of Taurus the Bull. Reddish-colored Aldebaran represents an angry eye of the Bull.
   This conjunction is close enough so that a combination of a thin waning crescent Moon and the bright Aldebaran should make for a take a look with binoculars or the ‘naked-eye’.

   For those keeping track of Jupiter should be relieved to read that Jupiter’s retrograde motion has ended, and at least for the foreseeable future Jupiter has agreed to stick with the ‘program’ and resume it’s direct motion – eastward.

   
   
   

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Mercury and the Bees

   Late Wednesday evening July 4th the innermost planet Mercury will be within 0.5-1o from the open star cluster M-44, or more commonly known as the Beehive Cluster in Cancer the Crab. Both will be only 10-15o from the horizon and cold be a challenge to see. With binoculars the planet and star cluster should look good.

   
   
   

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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