Moon in Close Conjunction with Jupiter

   Wednesday evening October 3rd the 5-day old waxing crescent Moon will be about 1-2o from -2 magnitude Jupiter. Should make for a great view using binoculars. Keep an eye on the Moon over the next few days as it continues moving eastward and waxing toward first quarter phase and the planet Saturn.

   
   
   

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Moon Gets Clawed

   Tuesday evening October 2nd the 4-day old waxing crescent Moon will be in the claws of Scorpius the Scorpion, and about 6-7o from the heart of Scorpius, the reddish star Antares. The Moon will be about 8o from 8th magnitude Dwarf Planet Ceres, and about 11-12o from -2 magnitude Jupiter.

   
   
   

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Moon Conjunction with Mercury and Venus

   Sunday evening September 29th the very thin 1.5-day young waxing crescent Moon will be over the western horizon near the two inner planets Venus and Mercury, and nearby reddish star Antares.

   
   
   

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September Moon at Perigee

   Our Moon reaches perigee, (closest distance to Earth), for this orbit, on Saturday September 28th. At that time the Moon will be at a distance of 28.05 Earth diameters, 222,328 miles (357,803 km) from the Earth.

   On the day of the perigee Moon the 29-day old very thin waning crescent Moon will be over the eastern horizon rising within about 30 minutes ahead of the Sun. This puts the Moon too close to the Sun to be seen. The waning crescent Moon becomes new Moon about 12 hours after the Sun and Moon rise.

   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*
   *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.


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Moon – Regulus Conjunction

   Thursday morning September 26th, before the Sun rises, watch for a thin 27-day old waning crescent Moon to be about 2-3o from the ‘heart of Leo the lion, the star Regulus.

   Both Regulus and the Moon will easily fit within the field of view of binoculars, and the pair should make an interesting comparison of apparent magnitudes. The waning crescent Moon with a -10.0 apparent magnitude and Regulus with 1.34 apparent magnitude.

   
   
   

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 Near Beehive Cluster

   Tuesday morning before the Sun rises the 26-day old waning crescent Moon will be about 6>sup>o from the open star cluster M-44, or more commonly known as the ‘Beehive Cluster’, or from the Latin for manger or cradle, Praesepe. M-44 is a group of approximately 1,000 stars at a distance of around 600 light years.

   The open star cluster covers about 1-2o and is easily seen in dark skies with the unaided eyes as a fuzzy patch of light. Through binoculars or with a low power wide field telescope eyepiece M-44 resolves to individual stars.

   
   
   

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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September Equinox – 2019

   On Monday September 23rd at 7:51 UT, ( 2:51 am CDT ) the Sun will have reached the astronomical coordinates of 0 degrees declination and 12 hours of right ascension, or RA. This places the Sun within the boundaries of the constellation Virgo the Maiden, or as some would say, “the Sun is in Virgo.” This is the actual position of the Astronomical Sun as opposed to the pseudoscience of astrology which has the astrological Sun entering the constellation of Libra the Scales.
   Read a little more about how astrology has the Sun incorrectly placed in a previous blog, and in another blog discussing the effects of precession.
   Declination is the astronomical equivalent to latitude measuring from 0 degrees at the equator to 90 degrees at either pole. Right ascension, or RA, is like longitude except that there is only east RA. The globe is divided into 24 sections, and like meridians of longitude, these hour circles are 15 degrees wide at the celestial equator and taper to a ‘point’ at the north and south pole respectively. In RA the ‘hour’ circles are counted from 0 hours to 23 hours. The 0 hour circle is at the intersection of the ecliptic and the celestial equator in the constellation of Pisces the Fishes.
   In a class lesson about seasons today would be one of the two days during the year when the Sun would be described as being over the Earth’s equator. If you were at the Earth’s equator the Sun would have an altitude of 90 degrees, or straight up in your sky at your local time for midday. At that moment there would not be a shadow. However at any other latitude, north or south at midday, the Sun would be at an angle less than 90 degrees and there would be a midday shadow. (Midday is the local time when the Sun is halfway between local rising time and local setting time. At any midday the Sun is at its maximum altitude above the southern horizon in the northern hemisphere, or is at its maximum altitude above the northern horizon in the southern hemisphere.)
   What is often noted about an equinox day is the reminder that equinox means equal night as a reference to there being equal amounts of daylight, and night. Also on an equinox day the Sun would rise due east and set due west for virtually everywhere on the globe. The times for sunrise and sunset would be approximately 12 hours apart, and the rising time would be around 6 am local time, and the setting time would be around 6 pm local time.

Hola Moon doh

Hola ‘Moo’ndo! Think Globally.

   So why “September Equinox” instead of using the more familiar “Fall Equinox”. Primarily because the southern hemisphere is also changing seasons on this day however for the southern hemisphere this is the start of their spring season. Despite the opposite seasons it is somewhat of a northern hemisphere bias that traditionally we would call this day the “Autumnal or Fall Equinox”, and in March we would say the “Spring” or “Vernal Equinox”. I favor the use of the name of the month so that regardless of which hemisphere it is just simply the March equinox or the September equinox, and by extension we would also have the June solstice and the December solstice..
   
   This short video shows students at Colegio Menor San Francisco de Quito, a school in Quito Ecuador, measuring the altitude of the sun hourly on the day of the 2004 September Equinox. They were taking part in Project SunShIP, Sun Shadow Investigation Project. There are also some pictures showing a local midday shadow from other participating schools in the United States and U.K.

   
   
   

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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