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.
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.
Thursday morning February 1st the waning gibbous Moon will be in conjunction with the star Regulus in Leo the Lion. Depending on your location the two will be anywhere from around 1o to at least 5.5o as is the separation from my location.
And while outside remember to turn toward the south and east to see Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn stretched out above the horizon. The brighter stars, Spica in Virgo the Harvest Maiden and Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion are also arranged along the same ‘line’ as the three planets.
Monday evening January 22nd the 6-day old waxing crescent Moon will be in transit between two members of the ‘water-world’ part of our skies. The constellations Cetus the Whale and Pisces the Fishes will be the hosts for the Moon for the next few days. This animated graphic starts with Monday and is set to 1-day intervals ending on the 26th.
Saturday evening December 30th the 13-day old waxing gibbous Moon will be 1-2o from the reddish star Aldebaran. The star is often described as representing the angry eye of Taurus the Bull. Regardless Aldebaran is at one end of a v-shaped group of stars that make-up the face of Taurus. These stars are part of an open star cluster, the Hyades, consisting of several hundreds of stars located about 150 light years from the Earth.
About 10o from the Hyades, on the shoulder of Taurus, is another well-known open star cluster – the Pleiades. This is a cluster of approximately 1,000 stars located at a distance of 400-450 light years. Easily seen with the naked-eye several of the brightest stars form a small dipper-shape.
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.