February Moon at Apogee

   Our Moon reaches apogee, (greatest distance from Earth), on Tuesday February 5th. At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 31.87 Earth diameters 406,556 km (252,622 miles) 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 1.5-day old very thin waxing crescent Moon will be over the southwestern horizon at sunset local time.

*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.


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January Moon at Descending Node


   Sunday February 3rd the Moon will be crossing the plane of the ecliptic moving south. This is known as the descending node, one of two intersections the Moon’s orbital path (dark green line) has with the ecliptic.
   On the day of the node crossing the Moon will be over the southeast horizon rising about an 30 minutes before the Sun rises. New Moon is the next day, February 4th, and is too close to the Sun to be seen.
   While the Moon may not be visible there are several planets and bright stars visible in the hour or so before the Sun rises.
   
   
   
   
   

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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Moon – Saturn Conjunction

   Saturday morning February 2nd the thin 27.5-day old thin waning crescent Moon will be 1-2o from the ringed planet Saturn. Both will be rising about 1 hour before the Sun rises, and the two will easily fit within the field of view of binoculars.

   
   
   

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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Moon – Venus Conjunction

   Thursday morning January 31st, at sunrise, the 26-day old waning crescent Moon will be within 2-3o from the planet Venus.

   
   
   

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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Moon – Jupiter Conjunction

   Wednesday morning January 30th, at sunrise, the 25-day old waning crescent Moon will be within 2-3o from the planet Jupiter. Venus is a few more degrees further east and the Moon will be in conjunction with Venus on the 31st.

   
   
   

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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Mercury at Superior Conjunction

orbital-positions   Wednesday January 30th the innermost planet Mercury reaches superior conjunction. At superior conjunction Mercury will be on the opposite side of the Sun. The graphic to the right shows the planet positions relative to the Earth and Sun for both inner planets and outer planets.

   While at this superior conjunction Mercury will not be directly in line with the Earth and the Sun – on the ecliptic. Mercury has an orbital inclination of 7o with respect to the ecliptic. So like our Moon, Mercury during each complete orbit, will cross the plane of the ecliptic moving north (ascending node) and also moving south (descending node). For this superior conjunction Mercury will be south of the ecliptic and will reach its furthest position south of the ecliptic on February 1st.
   

   
   
   

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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Moon Passes Spica

   Shortly after midnight local time on January 26th-27th the 20-21 day old waning gibbous Moon will pass within 10-11o from the blue-white star Spica. This star marks a bundle of wheat in the left hand of Virgo the Harvest Maiden.

   
   
   

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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