Friday April 14th the outer planet Uranus will be at solar conjunction. This is a position where Uranus is on the opposite side of the Sun as seen from Earth. All of the planets, as viewed from Earth, will reach solar conjunction at some point during their orbit around the Sun. For the two inner planets, Mercury and Venus, this is known as superior conjunction rather then simply conjunction as it would be for the outer planets.
Thursday evening March 2nd watch for the 4.5-day young waxing crescent Moon to be about 2o away from Dwarf Planet Ceres. Seeing Ceres with an apparent magnitude of around 8 may be difficult when the Moon is this close, especially using binoculars.
However with a telescope Ceres should resolve into a small disc shape as this simulated view with a 25mm eyepiece on a 6″ reflector shows. There are two 6th magnitude stars on either side of Ceres that could be used as reference points for Ceres location if you are following the Dwarf Planet as it moves along its orbit.
Tuesday evening February 28th the 2.5-day young waxing crescent Moon will be about 9o from the inner planet Venus and about the same distance from Comet Encke (2P).
Mars and Venus as well as three Dwarf Planets are also above the horizon at sunset local time as the graphic is showing.
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.
Sunday February 26th the ‘Red Planet’ Mars will be about 0.5o from the outer planet Uranus. Mars has an apparent magnitude of 1.28 while the much larger but considerably more distant Uranus has an apparent magnitude of 5.88. Despite the large difference in magnitudes both planets should be visible as small dot shapes in binoculars and with even more detail through a telescope eyepiece.
Greetings from San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina. For the next 3 weeks I will be posting with the perspective of viewing the sky from between around 42o-48o south latitude, and then from the equator while in Quito Ecuador.
On the evening of January 13th both planets, Mars (23o) and Uranus (23o), will be at about the same heliocentric longitude or at heliocentric conjunction. While they may share nearly identical heliocentric longitude coordinates they do not have the same right ascension with Uranus about 2 hours of R.A. west from Mars. Both Mars and Uranus are visible over the southwestern horizon a couple of hours after sunset, although it may prove to be difficult to see Uranus with an apparent magnitude of nearly 6.0.
The Moon reaches perigee, (minimum distance from Earth), this month on Tuesday January 10th. At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 28.4 Earth diameters (363,238 km or 225,705 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 13-day old nearly full Moon rises just before sunset local time and is located near the feet of the Gemini Twins.
Read this very informative article about the Earth-Moon system and their orbital motions, written by Joe Hanson. “Do We Orbit the Moon?”