Neptune at Western Quadrature

orbital-positions   On Sunday June 4th the position of the planet Neptune with respect to the Earth and the Sun places this ringed planet at what is called western quadrature. At that orbital position Neptune, and actually any outer planet, is at a 90 degree angle from us as this graphic shows. Think third quarter Moon as that is a fair comparison of the relative positions. At this position Neptune leads the Sun across the sky from east to west as the Earth is rotating, meaning that Neptune rises before the Sun and also sets before the Sun.

click on graphic to see it larger   Neptune currently is within the boundaries of the constellation Aquarius the Water Bearer. At around 7th magnitude Neptune is too dim to see with the naked-eye but easily seen with a telescope or binoculars. In 7×50 binoculars Neptune may be visible near the 4th magnitude Lambda Aquarii, and just below the point of a small triangle arrangement of 6th magnitude stars.

   This is a short video clip from a much longer video that I made as part of a live musical performance called “Orbit” at the Gottleib Planetarium in Kansas City Missouri during May 2011.

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

Jupiter/Moon Conjunction

   Saturday evening June 3rd the 9.3-day old waxing gibbous Moon will be within 1-2o from the giant planet Jupiter. Both will very comfortably fit within the field of view of binoculars. Both rise in the east (except on Venus) at about 3 pm CDT and will be over the southern horizon a couple of hours before midnight local time.

   
   
   

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 at Western Elongation

inner-planets-positions   Saturday June 3rd Venus reaches the point in its orbit called greatest western elongation. As this graphic shows the inner planet Venus, or Mercury, is more or less at a right angle (90o) from the Sun and Earth at western elongation. From the surface of the Earth, your backyard, for example, Venus is to the right, or western side of the Sun and is rising before the Sun.

   At western elongation Venus, or for that matter Mercury the other inner planet, is as far out from the Sun as we see them and as a result Venus or Mercury will rise at the latest time in this orbit. On the day of the western elongation Venus will be 45.9o from the Sun. From western elongation forward Venus or Mercury will be moving eastward toward the Sun and each day rising closer and closer to the time of sunrise. As the planet moves eastward it is moving further away from the Earth toward superior conjunction on the opposite side of the Sun.


    As the distance between the Earth and Venus, or Mercury, increases combined with the decreasing angle between the planet, the Earth, and the Sun, Venus or Mercury decreases in apparent size and also waxes through gibbous phase shapes but we never see it at a full phase since that is at superior conjunction.

   
   
   
Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

Moon Passes Regulus


   Tuesday and Wednesday evenings May 30th and 31st the waxing gibbous Moon will be passing the heart of Leo the Lion, the star Regulus.

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

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 Not at Ascending Node!!

   Whoops — writing perhaps a little too early this morning I sent out a mis-dated (as in incorrect) posting about the Moon being at ascending node. It is not there today but rather on the 31st. I’ll re-post in a couple of days.
   However the sky graphic is correct so if it is clear this evening go outside and enjoy the view. Use binoculars and you could see the open star cluster, M-35, a few degrees to the right from 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.

Don’t Panic, It’s Only A Towel!


   Thursday May 25th, or any day that is May 25th we celebrate, in our own way, (yes we do) the Book,
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
, by Douglas Adams. What is the significance of the towel? Click on the graphic to enlarge it to a readable size to find out.
   So be a hoopy frood and click on this link to visit the Towel Day web site.

   Overheard on Jeopardy: “42.”
And the answer is: “What is the meaning of life?”
   
   
   

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.

They’re There!


   Tuesday morning, May 23rd the thin 26.7-day old waning crescent Moon will be surrounded by planets, most of which will be difficult to see given the time of day and how faint each one is. Except for Venus.

   
   
   

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.