Tuesday evening April 24th the waxing gibbous Moon will be over the southwest horizon at sunset local time. The Moon will be about 3o from the star Regulus in Leo the Lion. Over the northwestern horizon at the same time will be the planet Venus about 3o from the open star cluster the Pleiades.
Venus and the Pleiades will easily fit within the field of view of binoculars.
All solar orbiting objects will at some point in their respective orbit cross the plane of the ecliptic. The ecliptic is actually the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, however from our perspective on the Earth it appears as if the Sun is moving eastward along the ecliptic.
On April 12th the inner planet Venus will be at its ascending node as it crosses the ecliptic moving north. And the next day, April 13th, Mercury will be at its descending node moving south as it crosses the ecliptic.
Over the next week or so the two inner planets will pass by each other coming the closest on the 19th when the two will be less then 4o from each other. With only casual observation one should notice that both planets are moving with respect to each other, but in opposite directions. Mercury is recently past its eastern elongation and is now moving westward, in retrograde, toward the Sun and inferior conjunction. On the other hand, or orbit, Venus is moving eastward out from a recent superior conjunction, opposite side of the Sun, toward its own respective eastern elongation.
This animated graphic shows Venus and Mercury over a period of several days from March 16th to the 29th of March. The time is set for 7:15 pm CDT and in the first several frames the planets are first shown as they would appear at 7:15 pm, then I added labels, then their respective orbits. To make the animation easier to see I also turned off daylight, and then finally the labels were turned off then back on at the end.
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 evening March 19th the thin 1.5-day young waxing crescent Moon, and the two inner planets, Venus and Mercury, will be over the western horizon about 1 hour after sunset local time. All three will fit within the width of a 7×50 binoculars field of view (about 7o).
On the evenings of March 3rd, 4th, and 5th the two inner planets Mercury and Venus will become visible, but low, over the western horizon shortly after sunset local time. Due to its faster orbital speed Mercury will pass Venus as this animated graphic is showing. At their closest the two will be separated by about 1.5o.
This should make for good viewing with binoculars and for a great photo opportunity. The two are close enough to just barely fit in a 25 mm eyepiece field of view on a 6″ reflector..
On Tuesday January 9th the inner planet Venus will have moved into superior conjunction – on the opposite side of the Sun from the Earth. Venus will reappear on the east side of the Sun later next month and start becoming visible in the evening skies over the western horizon.
Start off this New Year with something unusual, something that “only happens once in a blue moon.” How? There are two full Moons this month, with the first full Moon on January 1st, and the second full Moon, the ‘Blue Moon’, on the 31st.
A Blue Moon month is a somewhat unusual Astronomical event described as a month with two full Moons that occur about every 2 1/2 years. What makes this Blue Moon month more interesting is that the full Moon of January 1st will also be a ‘super-Moon’ as the time for full Moon is close to the time for when the Moon is at perigee or its closest for this particular orbit. And to make this year a little more unusual is that during March there will be again two full Moons, second Blue Moon month.
Even more exciting is that the second full Moon of January will pass through the Earth’s shadow giving us an opportunity to view a total lunar eclipse. Due to the timing for the eclipse viewing from my location will be limited to seeing about the first half the lunar eclipse as the Moon will be setting while still totally eclipsed. For the western Missouri and Eastern Kansas area the Moon enters the Earth’s darker shadow at approximately 5:48 am CST and totality begins at 6:51 am CST, and maximum at 7:29 am CST, five minutes after sunrise.
For information about the eclipse for your location use the Hermit Eclipse Web Site.
Happy New Year
Gëzuar Vitin e Ri
سنة جديدة سعيدة
З Новым годам
Sretna Nova godina
Glückliches neues Jahr
Ευτυχισμένο το Νέο Έτος
Athbhliain faoi mhaise daoibh
Felix Novus Annus
Feliz Ano Novo
С Новым годом
Feliz Año Nuevo
Heri ya Mwaka Mpya
Gott Nytt År
Yeni Yılınız Kutlu Olsun
Thank you for your support.
Here are a couple of short videos for your New Year’s enjoyment!
So, where would you park the Space Shuttle??
The consequences of a Black Hole.
New Year’s Day includes a full Moon, the first of two full Moons this month. So as a way to ‘ring’ in the new year and hopefully not offend anyone, you will find below some of the Moon cartoons I have collected over the years and more than likely used in my classes! Apparently I was into cows at one point!!