March Moon at Ascending Node

   Saturday March 11th the waning gibbous Moon will be crossing the plane of the ecliptic moving north relative to the ecliptic. 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 March 11th the 13.5-day old waxing gibbous Moon will rise with the constellation Leo the Lion and is located near the Lion’s tail.

   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 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 return to bobs-spaces.

Moon Gets Pawed by Leo


   Friday March 10th the waxing gibbous Moon will be within 2o from the heart of Leo the Lion, the bright star Regulus.
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

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.

Mercury at Superior Conjunction

mercury at superior conjunction   Tuesday March 7th the innermost planet Mercury reaches superior conjunction – on the opposite side of the Sun from the Earth. For those that are curious, Mercury at superior conjunction is approximately 1.363 AU (126,698,765 miles; 203,901,898 km) from the Earth – the combined distance of the Earth to Sun distance plus the radius of Mercury’s orbit.
   Mercury is not visible while in conjunction with the Sun but within the next week or so Mercury will reappear on the east side of the Sun and start becoming visible over the western horizon at sunset.

   
   
   

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.

March Moon at Perigee

3mar-perigee_moon   The Moon reaches perigee, (minimum distance from Earth), this month on Friday March 3rd. At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 29.83 Earth diameters (369,062 km or 229,324 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 the 5.5-day old waxing crescent Moon is above the wstern horizon at sunset local time and sets a few hours later.

   *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.

Neptune at Solar Conjunction

view-from-earth_neptune-solar-conjunction   Thursday March 2nd the outer planet Neptune reaches a point in its orbit where it passes behind the Sun as we view this from Earth. Neptune, and the other outer planets, dwarf planets, or small solar system bodies, all eventually reach this position on the opposite side of the Sun known as solar conjunction.

   
   
   
   
   
Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

A Lunar Conjunction with a Dwarf Planet


   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. 2march-tele
   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.

   
   
   
   
   

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.

Moon, Mars, and Uranus


   After sunset on Wednesday evening March 1st watch for the 3.5-day young waxing crescent Moon to be within about 5o from Mars and Uranus.

   
   
   

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.