October Qué tal Now Available

october que tal   As the subject line says the October issue is now online and available.
   Many interesting celestial events this month including one minor meteor showers, a partial penumbral lunar eclipse, and conjunctions with our Moon, planets, and stars. In the east before sunrise look for Jupiter to be the point of a right-triangle with the ‘twin’ stars. Mars will pass by the star Regulus in Leo and will have a temporary traveling companion – Comet ISON. Both will be within a couple of degrees from one another but will have very contrasting apparent magnitudes. Mars is naked-eye visible and the comet is not.

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

September Qué tal Now Available

   Many interesting celestial events this month including minor meteor showers, the September equinox, and conjunctions with our Moon, planets, and stars. Venus and Saturn and the star Spica have some close conjunctions in the evening skies at sunset. In the east before sunrise look for Jupiter to be the point of a triangle with the twin stars. Mars will pass through M 44, the Beehive Cluster, an open star cluster in Cancer.

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

Preview September Qué tal

voki   As the subject line states, the September preview issue of Qué tal in the Current Skies is now online and available at this temporary web address: http://currentsky.com/2013/sep13/index.html
   It will be at its regular web address in a few days.

   Thank you for your support and encouragement.
   Clear Skies…
   Bob Riddle

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

Mercury Goes to Extremes

   mercury-aniToday the innermost planet Mercury reaches a point along its orbit around the Sun where it is more or less at a right angle from the Earth and the Sun, as the banner graphic at the top of the page shows. As viewed from above Mercury is to the right from the Sun, while from the backyard view on the Earth’s surface Mercury is also to the right from the Sun, or on its west side. This puts Mercury in the morning skies rising before the Sun rises and leading the Sun across the sky from east to west as the Earth rotates from west to east.

Earth, Inner Planets, and the Ecliptic

Earth, Inner Planets, and the Ecliptic

   From our backyard perspective we view the planets at more or less the same level because the 8 planets orbit the Sun on or close to the plane of the ecliptic, the Earth’s orbit extended outward from the Sun. So from this perspective the two inner planets appear to move back and forth, left to right to left, as they orbit the Sun. Today Mercury is at the ‘turning point’ on the right side of the Sun, which places Mercury at its greatest western elongation, or at its maximum angular separation from the Sun as seen from Earth. Today Mercury is approximately 20 degrees from the Sun. Due to its closeness to the Sun Mercury never gets more than around 30 or so degrees from the Sun which means that Mercury never rises or sets more than about 2 hours from the Sun. (The Earth rotates approximately 15 degrees every hour)

Click here to learn a little (or a lot) about the innermost planet Mercury from two MESSENGER web sites.

30 July - 5:30 am CDT

30 July – 5:30 am CDT

   While out observing Mercury look a little higher to the right for the planets Mars and Jupiter, plus some of the stars of the northern hemisphere winter season. While these two outer planets are also to the west from the Sun they do not have an elongation position as outer planets orbit the Sun beyond the Earth’s orbit rather than between the Earth and the Sun. Outer planets do reach a 90 degree angle relative to the Earth and the Sun but it is known as either east or west quadrature.

30 seconds worth of Mercury from the Orbit performance.

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

Preview August Issue of Qué tal

voki   As the subject line states, the August preview issue of Qué tal in the Current Skies is now online and available at this temporary web address: http://currentsky.com/2013/aug13/index.html
   It will be at its regular web address in a few days.

   Thank you for your support and encouragement.
   Clear Skies…
   Bob Riddle

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

Waxing Moon-A Slam Dunk?

   This evening the waxing Moon has moved further east from its location yesterday and is now poised (with some imagination) to be slam-dunked into the constellation Crater the Cup. Crater the cup, along with Corvus the Crow ride on the back of Hydra, the many headed snake. The stars of these constellations are reletively dim and with that in mind (or view) it is actually past the best viewing time for this trio of constellations as they are setting shortly after sunset and consequently, as the banner graphic shows, are not very high above the southwestern horizon.

   Keep an eye on the Moon over the next few days as it will pass by the star Spica and then Saturn.

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

Preview July Issue of Qué tal

voki   As the subject line states, the July preview issue of Qué tal in the Current Skies is now online and available at this temporary web address: http://currentsky.com/2013/jul13/index.html
   It will be at its regular web address in a few days.

   Thank you for your support and encouragement.
   Clear Skies…
   Bob Riddle

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