Moon – Uranus Conjunction

   Monday evening January 14th the 9-day old waxing gibbous Moon will be about 6-7o from the outer planet Uranus. Both are close enough to fit within a binocular field of view.
   However don’t realistically expect to see Uranus as Uranus has an apparent magnitude of 5.78 compared to the much brighter -12.0 apparent magnitude of 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.


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Mars – Uranus at Heliocentric Conjunction

   Thursday December 13th the two outer planets, Mars and Uranus will reach a point in their respective orbits called heliocentric conjunction, both having the heliocentric longitude of 31o.

   
   
   

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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December Moon at Apogee

   Our Moon reaches apogee, (greatest distance from Earth), on Wednesday December 12th. At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 31.76 Earth diameters 251,765 miles (405,177 km) from the Earth.

   Does our Moon actually go around the Earth? 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 apogee the 6-day old waxing crescent Moon, an hour after sunset local time (4:55 pm CST), will be over the southwestern horizon and joined by several planets. Over the southern horizon is the planet Mars. Neptune and Uranus are also shown however at 8th Neptune requires optical assistance or a camera to become visible, while Uranus at around 6th magnitude could be visible with binoculars or telescope.

*Click here to read my 2006 Scope on the Sky column “The Real Shape of the Moon’s Orbit”. (PDF)

Read this very informative article about the Earth-Moon system and their orbital motions, written by Joe Hanson. “Do We Orbit the Moon?”

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to go to bobs-spaces.

Uranus at 2018 Opposition

view-from-uranus   Wednesday October 24th the outer planet Uranus reaches a position in its orbit around the Sun when it is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun. This coincidentally is known as opposition, and it is an orbital position which only the planets further from the Sun than the Earth may reach.

   On Wednesday evening shortly after sunset local Uranus will be just above the eastern horizon a few degrees west from the full Moon. This graphic includes the ecliptic to show how the planets orbit the Sun within a few degrees from the ecliptic.
   
   
   
   
   
   

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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Mars – Jupiter at Heliocentric Conjunction


   Saturday March 3rd the outer planets Mars and Jupiter will be at a position along their respective orbits where they have the same heliocentric longitude of approximately 223o. However this does not mean that if you were to observe the two in the morning skies that they would be lined up. The are not. Rather, as this graphic shows, the two planets are lined up with each other and with the Sun, while the Earth is at a lower heliocentric longitude and not in the same line as the two planets.

   
   
   

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.

Mars Opposite Uranus

   Tuesday January 30th Mars and Uranus will reached their respective orbital positions that have them 180o apart. Mars will be located at approximately 207.6o and Uranus at approximately 27.6o of heliocentric longitude. This called heliocentric opposition.
   Interestingly at their last heliocentric opposition, February 26th 2016, Mars was located at approximately 200.0o and Uranus at approximately 20.0o of heliocentric longitude.
   
   
   

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.