February Moon at Ascending Node

   Saturday February 20th the 9-day old waxing gibbous Moon will be crossing the plane of the ecliptic moving north. 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 9-day old waxing gibbous Moon will be over the southwestern horizon later during the evening after sunset local time. Watch for the Moon to be about 8o from the reddish star Aldebaran in the open star cluster the Hyades in Taurus the Bull.

   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 Scope on the Sky column “The Real Shape of the Moon’s Orbit”. (PDF)
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

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.

Take a Deep Dive into Deep Space

   Take a deep dive into deep space at the DESI Legacy Imaging Surveys web site. This is an interactive display using a 10 trillion pixel composite picture of much of the night sky, based on different imaging data sets to create the image. The zoom-in is incredible as the billions of points of light resolve into galaxies, nebulae and other deep sky objects. Some of the datasets even show a spectral display. There are a number of ways to interact with the images including a way to flip back and forth between two images to watch for any objects in motion. Clicking on the screen will bring up options for joining a forum to ask or discuss what you are viewing. There are links to other information about that object or part of the sky.
   The video is a short tour of around Taurus and Orion.

   
   
   

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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Moon on the Move

   Over the course of the next week or so the Moon will be moving eastward across the evening skies as it waxes from crescent toward full Phase on September 1st. This series of graphics shows the sky at 9:00 pm CDT daily until August 30th. Use the graphics as a guide to locating some of the stars near the path the Moon follows, as well as the evenings when the Moon is in conjunction with Jupiter, then Saturn.


   
   
   

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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An Evening Comet

   Despite clouds along the northern horizon the comet was still easy to see with the naked eye. Well not really easy, easy, but it was certainly visible as an elongated fuzzy object. I was observing near a family using a telescope and they were the first to spot the comet. So, by using the pointer stars of the Big Dipper I looked down from the bowl toward the horizon and there was the comet. In one of the pictures below you can see the pointer stars near the top of the picture.
All pictures have been processed to adjust exposure, contrast, saturation, temperature, and all have been resized.
   While waiting for the sky to darken enough the ISS orbited overhead moving across the stars of the ‘Summer Triangle’ passing closely by the stars Vega in Lyra the Harp and Deneb in Cygnus the Swan (aka the ‘Northern Cross’).
   Adding to the viewing were the planets Jupiter and Saturn rising in the southeast along with the stars of Sagittarius and Scorpius, and the summer Milky Way.
   The morning after there were a few clouds blocking a view of the comet, however the waning crescent Moon and Venus were shining brightly and hard to miss.


   
   
   

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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Give Mom a Diamond

   This Mother’s Day, weekend, or Sunday May 10th, give Mom or your favorite mother(s) a stellar treat by showing them a group of 4 stars making up a large star pattern known as the ‘Diamond of Virgo’.
   Step outside around mid-evening and look toward the east-southern horizon. Two of the four diamond stars are easily seen and may help serve as a guide to the other two diamond stars.
   Spica, a star in Virgo the Harvest Maiden, marks the lower corner of an *asterism known as ‘the Diamond of Virgo’. Look up to the left from Spica for the reddish star Arcturus in the kite-shaped constellation Bootes the Herdsman. Then look nearly straight up, the zenith, for the dimmest of the diamond stars, Cor Caroli in Canes Venatici, the Hunting Dogs. Then look down to the right for the star Denebola, the tail of Leo the Lion.
   

*An asterism is a group of stars forming a recognizable pattern using stars within a constellation or by combining stars from more than one constellation. For example, the Big and Little Dipper are asterisms.

   
   
   

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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Waxing Gibbous Moon Passes Regulus

   Saturday and Sunday May 11-12th the waxing gibbous Moon will pass by the star Regulus, the ‘heart’ of Leo the Lion.

   
   
   

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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Moon Conjunction with Regulus

   Tuesday November 2nd in the early hours before the Sun rises the 24-day old waning crescent Moon will be 2-3o from Regulus, the ‘heart’ of Leo the Lion.

   
   
   

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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Mercury Passes the Heart of the Lion


   Early mornings this week, before the local time of sunrise, look toward the east for the innermost planet Mercury as it moves east passing within about 1-2o from the star Regulus. This animated graphic shows the morning skies on September 5th to the 7th at 5:15 am CDT

   
   
   
   Regulus marks the bottom of the backward question shape for Leo the Lion, and Regulus also represents the heart of Leo.

   
   
   

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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A Sky Full of Planets

   Friday August 3rd all of the planets, except for Mercury, and some of the Dwarf Planets will be over the horizon during the hours before sunrise and the hours before sunset. The dwarf planets Pluto (14.2), Haumea (17.2), Makemake (16.7), and Eris(18.5) with low apparent magnitudes are too distant to be visible other than with larger aperture telescopes. However Dwarf Planet Ceres, at 8th magnitude could be visible with smaller telescopes and certainly with long exposure time imaging.

   
   
   

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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Planet-A-Palooza plus the Moon

   This is one of those ‘best of times’ with regard to planet viewing. All of the visible planets are above the horizon although Mercury sets just before Mars rises. Times like this make it easy to visualize the ecliptic and its relationship with the planets. And our Moon, as it waxes toward full phase over the next several days, will pass by several planets and dwarf planets.

Click on a graphic to start a slide show.

   
   
   

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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