Thursday morning July 20th watch for the thin 26-day old waning crescent Moon to be within 2-3o from the inner planet Venus as both rise a couple of hours before sunrise. The reddish star Aldebaran in Taurus the Bull will be about 10o from the Moon.
Venus and the Moon will fit nicely within the field of view of binoculars.
Monday morning July 17th the 23-day old waning crescent Moon will be within a few degrees from the outer planet Uranus and dwarf planet Eris.
Another dwarf planet, Ceres, the closest dwarf planet to the Earth is above the north-eastern horizon before sunrise local time. Ceres, formerly known as an asteroid, and the largest of the main belt asteroids, had enough mass to form into a spherical shape, one of the requirements for planet classification. Thus allowing it to be included in the group of known dwarf planets – most of which reside in orbits beyond the outer planet Neptune.
Also very visible over the eastern horizon is the inner planet Venus shining very brightly near the reddish star Aldebaran in Taurus the Bull.
Thursday July 13th morning in the couple of hours before sunrise local time the inner planet Venus will be within about 3o from the reddish star Aldebaran in Taurus the Bull. Aldebaran is often described as the “red, angry eye” of Taurus. It is located at the end of the v-shaped open star cluster the Hyades, a ‘loose’ grouping of several hundred stars of which the brightest form the v-shape of the Bull’s face.
On the 13th Venus becomes the other eye of the Bull. The apparent brightness or magnitude difference between Venus (-4.07) and Aldebaran (0.84) is quite striking.
Over the next few days Venus will steadily move away, toward the east, from Aldebaran as this animated graphic is showing. It is a simulated view through 10×50 binoculars and runs from July 12th to July 17th.
Friday evening March 31st the 4-day old waxing crescent Moon will be about 4o from the reddish star Aldebaran in the open star cluster The Hyades. This open star cluster has a noticeable v-shape and from mythology the v-shape is the face of Taurus the Bull. Over the course of several hours as the Moon continues moving eastward along its orbit the Moon will pass across the v-shape and will be less than one-half degree from Aldebaran.
From my longitude this part of the sky will have set but observers in parts of north Africa, India, and that part of the world may be able to see an occultation of Aldebaran by the Moon. This animated graphic shows the Moon’s motion from 9 pm CDT 31 March to 5 am CDT 1 April (2 UT 1 April to 9 UT 1 April).
The point of the v-shape is the bull’s nose while the two stars at the open end, Aldebaran and Epsilon Taurus mark the bull’s eyes. To the right, west, from the Moon is another open star cluster The Pleiades.
The Moon reaches perigee, (minimum distance from Earth), this month on Monday December 12th. At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 28.1 Earth diameters (356,509 km or 221,524 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 lunar perigee the 13.5-day old waxing gibbous Moon rises at around sunset local time and is over the southwest horizon at sunrise the following morning. The Moon is also very close to the star Aldebaran in the v-shaped open star cluster making the face of Taurus the Bull, the Hyades. Depending on your location this may be an occultation of the star by the Moon, or a very close conjunction. Nonetheless with binoculars or a wide field telescope eyepiece the Moon superimposed on the Hyades should make for great viewing.
*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?”
Tuesday night and Wednesday morning October 18th and 19th the 18-day old waning gibbous Moon will be close to the eye of Taurus the Bull, the reddish star Aldebaran. From other locations the Moon will pass in front, occult, Aldebaran. The path for seeing the occultation stretches from Central America, Mexico, parts of eastern U.S.A., eastern Canada and then curves south toward northwestern Africa. The occultation is calculated to begin at 7 UT on Wednesday October 19th.
Through binoculars the Moon, Aldebaran, and the stars making up the v-shaped face of Taurus, the Hyades, should all fit comfortably within the 7o field of view of 7×50 binoculars.
Over the next couple of nights or early mornings the waning gibbous Moon will pass across the stars of the Hyades, a v-shaped open star cluster that makes up the face of Taurus the Bull. Depending on your geographical location you may see the Moon either pass very closely to the reddish star Aldebaran.
From parts of Eastern Africa, Middle East, and South Asia the waning Gibbous Moon will be within 0.2o from Aldebaran.
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.