June Moon at Ascending Node

   Saturday June 16th the waxing 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 Saturday evening June 16th the 3.5-day old waxing crescent Moon will be about 8o east (left) from the planet Venus and about 3o from the open star cluster, M-44 also, known as the ‘Beehive 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?”

   
   
   

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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It’s All About Exposure

   Last night after sunset I set out to try and capture a picture of Venus less then 1o from the open star cluster M-35, near the feet of the Gemini Twins. Additionally the first quarter Moon was within about 1.5o from the star Regulus, the ‘heart’ of Leo the Lion, and also easily seen as the bottom of the backward question shape this constellation is best known for. Since my western skies are illuminated by the lights from an athletic field, and the eastern suburbs of Kansas City, MO. the limiting magnitude is around 2 or 3, meaning that the dimmest stars easily seen in that direction have to be at least 3rd magnitude or brighter. So with that in mind I took over 60 pictures with various camera settings but the skies were just too bright to capture the light from the stars making up M-35.

   Then I turned my attention to the Moon and Regulus. Regulus was close enough to the Moon that it’s light was nearly washed out by the Moon’s reflected Sun light. The difficulty of catching both has to do with camera settings. For example opening the shutter and increasing the exposure time washes out the Moon but allows Regulus to be seen.
   I use a Cannon Rebel EOS T7i with a touch screen allowing me to change settings very easily and see the effect in the change in real time.
   Camera settings: 300 mm; f/13; 1/40 sec.; ISO-400


   For this picture I increased the exposure time but left the other settings as they were. The Moon is larger in this picture because I zoomed in on the original before cropping it for this blog.
   Camera settings: 200 mm; f/13; 5 sec.; ISO-400

   
   
   
   
   

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.

Venus and Moon Are In Conjunctions

   Monday evening May 21st the first quarter Moon and the inner planet Venus will each be in their own respective conjunctions. Venus is within 1o from the open star cluster, M-35, located near the foot of Castor, one of the Gemini Twins. Venus currently shines with an apparent magnitude of -3.96, and at that brightness will outshine the 5th magnitude of M-35.

    Nonetheless the two should be visible with binoculars, as this graphic simulates, as well as a couple of 3rd magnitude stars nearby.


   Further toward the east, and unmistakable is the first quarter Moon. During the night hours the Moon, as it orbits eastward, will pass within about 1.5o from the star Regulus in Leo the Lion. Since Regulus is very close to the ecliptic there is a good chance that the Moon and Regulus will have a regular repetitive pattern or cycle of conjunctions. As in the months that Regulus is above the horizon, which include the next two months, June 18th and July 15th.

   
   
   

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.

May Perigee Moon in Conjunction with Venus

   Our Moon reaches perigee, (closest distance from Earth), for this orbit on Thursday May 17th. At that time the Moon will be at a distance of 28.52 Earth diameters (363,800 km or 226,055 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*

   Thursday evening May 17th, shortly after sunset local time (8:26 CDT), look toward the western horizon for a conjunction between a thin 2.5-day young waxing crescent Moon and the inner planet Venus. The two will be about 5.5o apart. The respective apparent magnitudes of Venus (-3.95), and the Moon (-10.22) will make an interesting contrast. Despite the difference in the apparent magnitude of Venus and the Moon, which one appears brighter? Do they appear to be similar in apparent magnitude, or brightness?


   Using binoculars the Moon and Venus will be seen as forming the base of a small triangle with the open star cluster, M-35 (apparent magnitude 5.5) forming the point of the triangle.
   (the size of Venus and Moon are not to correct scale and in this graphic have been enlarged for the image)

   *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.

Venus Near Two Open Star Clusters


   Tuesday evening May 1st the inner planet Venus will be between 2-3o from the open star cluster the Hyades, and about 9o from the open star cluster the Pleiades. Both of these open star clusters make up the shoulder and face of Taurus the Bull.

   Venus is close enough to the Hyades and the reddish star Aldebaran so that all will 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.

April Moon at Perigee


   Our Moon reaches perigee, (closest distance from Earth), for this orbit on Friday April 20th. At that time the Moon will be at a distance of 28.9 Earth diameters (368,714 km or 229,108 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 5-day old waxing crescent Moon is above the western horizon. The Moon is about 5o west (to the left) from the open star cluster, M-35.

   *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.

Sun Enters Astronomical Sign of Aries

April 19th   Thursday April 19th the Sun in its apparent eastward motion along the ecliptic, moves out of the constellation Pisces the Fishes and into the constellation of Aries the Ram. 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.