Taurus Eyes the Moon!

   Late Tuesday evening October 6th the 20-day old waning gibbous Moon will be 4-5o from the reddish star Aldebaran in the constellation Taurus the Bull.

   Aldebaran with its reddish color is known from mythology as the ‘angry eye‘ of the Bull. Aldebaran is also one of the two end stars in the v-shaped group of stars making up the face of the bull. This group of stars is an open star cluster, the Hyades, and is one two open star clusters easily seen with the unaided eye within the constellation. The tiny dipper-shaped Pleiades is the other open star cluster.

   
   
   

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.


Also Follow me and other great resources at Feedspot.

Mars 2020 Retrograde Loop

Mars Retrograde Loop
   About every 26 months, 780 days, the planet Mars appears to pause in its eastward orbital motion and for a period of time, about 72 days, move toward the west before again pausing and returning to its eastward orbital motion. This is known as retrograde motion, and is an apparent, not actual, motion that all planets beyond the Earth’s orbit undergo relative to the Earth’s orbital motion. All outer planets, dwarf planets, and asteroids will have a retrograde motion period each time the Earth moves past them. Picture two race cars circling a track. The innermost car, moving faster, passes the outer car and from the perspective of the inner car it could look like the slower moving car was moving backward.

   This year the planet Mars appears to pause in its orbit on September 9th within the constellation of Pisces the Fishes and then begins moving westward or in retrograde across the constellation of Pisces the Fishes. By Mid-November Mars will have returned to its eastward, or prograde, orbital motion.
   
      You could plot the retrograde motion of Mars on this equatorial star chart. It is part of a set of free star charts made available from the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Stephen F. Austin State University.

   The data tables below show position information about Mars. The first two columns are what will be used for plotting the changing position of Mars. R.A. is the Right Ascension or hour circle position of Mars and is in units of hours and minutes. This is similar to meridians of longitude on Earth except they are numbered from 0 to 23 and there is only east. Dec is the Declination of Mars and is degrees and minutes. Declination is like latitude with degrees north and south from the celestial equator.
    Distance is between the Earth and Mars and is shown using AU or Astronomical Units (93,000,000 miles 149,668,992 km). Ang. Diam is the apparent size, or angular diameter, the planet appears and is measured in units of degrees, minutes, and seconds. Scroll down the data to October 6th where you will see when Mars is closest to the Earth as evidenced by having the smallest distance of 0.4149202 AU.

.
   
   
Coordinate Positions for Mars


 September 2020
Day|       RA        |       Decl      |     Distance    |  Ang Diam  | VMag
 1 |   01h 48m 41.4s |   +6° 38' 48.9" |    0.4941852 AU |  00' 18.9" | -1.8
 2 |   01h 49m 07.4s |   +6° 41' 08.2" |    0.4902798 AU |  00' 19.1" | -1.8
 3 |   01h 49m 30.3s |   +6° 43' 13.7" |    0.4864417 AU |  00' 19.2" | -1.9
 4 |   01h 49m 49.9s |   +6° 45' 05.2" |    0.4826728 AU |  00' 19.4" | -1.9
 5 |   01h 50m 06.3s |   +6° 46' 42.6" |    0.4789754 AU |  00' 19.5" | -1.9
 6 |   01h 50m 19.4s |   +6° 48' 06.0" |    0.4753516 AU |  00' 19.7" | -1.9
 7 |   01h 50m 29.2s |   +6° 49' 15.3" |    0.4718040 AU |  00' 19.8" | -2.0
 8 |   01h 50m 35.6s |   +6° 50' 10.4" |    0.4683349 AU |  00' 20.0" | -2.0
 9 |   01h 50m 38.7s |   +6° 50' 51.5" |    0.4649470 AU |  00' 20.1" | -2.0
10 |   01h 50m 38.3s |   +6° 51' 18.5" |    0.4616430 AU |  00' 20.3" | -2.0
11 |   01h 50m 34.5s |   +6° 51' 31.4" |    0.4584258 AU |  00' 20.4" | -2.1
12 |   01h 50m 27.2s |   +6° 51' 30.4" |    0.4552982 AU |  00' 20.6" | -2.1
13 |   01h 50m 16.4s |   +6° 51' 15.4" |    0.4522635 AU |  00' 20.7" | -2.1
14 |   01h 50m 02.2s |   +6° 50' 46.7" |    0.4493246 AU |  00' 20.8" | -2.1
15 |   01h 49m 44.5s |   +6° 50' 04.4" |    0.4464849 AU |  00' 21.0" | -2.2
16 |   01h 49m 23.3s |   +6° 49' 08.6" |    0.4437477 AU |  00' 21.1" | -2.2
17 |   01h 48m 58.8s |   +6° 47' 59.8" |    0.4411163 AU |  00' 21.2" | -2.2
18 |   01h 48m 30.8s |   +6° 46' 38.1" |    0.4385939 AU |  00' 21.3" | -2.2
19 |   01h 47m 59.5s |   +6° 45' 04.0" |    0.4361836 AU |  00' 21.5" | -2.2
20 |   01h 47m 25.0s |   +6° 43' 17.9" |    0.4338886 AU |  00' 21.6" | -2.3
21 |   01h 46m 47.2s |   +6° 41' 20.3" |    0.4317117 AU |  00' 21.7" | -2.3
22 |   01h 46m 06.4s |   +6° 39' 11.6" |    0.4296557 AU |  00' 21.8" | -2.3
23 |   01h 45m 22.5s |   +6° 36' 52.3" |    0.4277231 AU |  00' 21.9" | -2.3
24 |   01h 44m 35.7s |   +6° 34' 23.0" |    0.4259166 AU |  00' 22.0" | -2.4
25 |   01h 43m 46.0s |   +6° 31' 44.2" |    0.4242385 AU |  00' 22.1" | -2.4
26 |   01h 42m 53.5s |   +6° 28' 56.4" |    0.4226913 AU |  00' 22.1" | -2.4
27 |   01h 41m 58.5s |   +6° 26' 00.2" |    0.4212774 AU |  00' 22.2" | -2.4
28 |   01h 41m 00.9s |   +6° 22' 56.1" |    0.4199990 AU |  00' 22.3" | -2.4
29 |   01h 40m 00.9s |   +6° 19' 44.7" |    0.4188585 AU |  00' 22.3" | -2.5
30 |   01h 38m 58.6s |   +6° 16' 26.7" |    0.4178582 AU |  00' 22.4" | -2.5

Ocober 2020
Day|       RA        |       Decl      |     Distance    |  Ang Diam  | VMag
 1 |   01h 37m 54.2s |   +6° 13' 02.7" |    0.4170002 AU |  00' 22.4" | -2.5
 2 |   01h 36m 47.7s |   +6° 09' 33.5" |    0.4162868 AU |  00' 22.5" | -2.5
 3 |   01h 35m 39.5s |   +6° 05' 59.6" |    0.4157201 AU |  00' 22.5" | -2.5
 4 |   01h 34m 29.5s |   +6° 02' 21.8" |    0.4153021 AU |  00' 22.5" | -2.5
 5 |   01h 33m 18.1s |   +5° 58' 40.9" |    0.4150348 AU |  00' 22.6" | -2.6
 6 |   01h 32m 05.3s |   +5° 54' 57.7" |    0.4149202 AU |  00' 22.6" | -2.6
 7 |   01h 30m 51.3s |   +5° 51' 12.8" |    0.4149601 AU |  00' 22.6" | -2.6
 8 |   01h 29m 36.3s |   +5° 47' 27.2" |    0.4151563 AU |  00' 22.5" | -2.6
 9 |   01h 28m 20.4s |   +5° 43' 41.5" |    0.4155103 AU |  00' 22.5" | -2.6
10 |   01h 27m 04.0s |   +5° 39' 56.8" |    0.4160237 AU |  00' 22.5" | -2.6
11 |   01h 25m 47.1s |   +5° 36' 13.8" |    0.4166979 AU |  00' 22.5" | -2.6
12 |   01h 24m 30.0s |   +5° 32' 33.4" |    0.4175340 AU |  00' 22.4" | -2.6
13 |   01h 23m 12.8s |   +5° 28' 56.4" |    0.4185333 AU |  00' 22.4" | -2.6
14 |   01h 21m 55.8s |   +5° 25' 23.8" |    0.4196965 AU |  00' 22.3" | -2.6
15 |   01h 20m 39.1s |   +5° 21' 56.4" |    0.4210244 AU |  00' 22.2" | -2.6
16 |   01h 19m 23.1s |   +5° 18' 35.3" |    0.4225173 AU |  00' 22.2" | -2.6
17 |   01h 18m 07.8s |   +5° 15' 21.3" |    0.4241753 AU |  00' 22.1" | -2.6
18 |   01h 16m 53.4s |   +5° 12' 15.4" |    0.4259982 AU |  00' 22.0" | -2.5
19 |   01h 15m 40.3s |   +5° 09' 18.3" |    0.4279853 AU |  00' 21.9" | -2.5
20 |   01h 14m 28.5s |   +5° 06' 31.0" |    0.4301358 AU |  00' 21.8" | -2.5
21 |   01h 13m 18.3s |   +5° 03' 54.2" |    0.4324485 AU |  00' 21.6" | -2.5
22 |   01h 12m 09.7s |   +5° 01' 28.5" |    0.4349221 AU |  00' 21.5" | -2.4
23 |   01h 11m 03.0s |   +4° 59' 14.6" |    0.4375552 AU |  00' 21.4" | -2.4
24 |   01h 09m 58.2s |   +4° 57' 13.1" |    0.4403461 AU |  00' 21.3" | -2.4
25 |   01h 08m 55.6s |   +4° 55' 24.4" |    0.4432932 AU |  00' 21.1" | -2.3
26 |   01h 07m 55.2s |   +4° 53' 49.0" |    0.4463948 AU |  00' 21.0" | -2.3
27 |   01h 06m 57.1s |   +4° 52' 27.4" |    0.4496491 AU |  00' 20.8" | -2.3
28 |   01h 06m 01.5s |   +4° 51' 19.9" |    0.4530543 AU |  00' 20.7" | -2.3
29 |   01h 05m 08.4s |   +4° 50' 26.7" |    0.4566085 AU |  00' 20.5" | -2.2
30 |   01h 04m 17.9s |   +4° 49' 48.3" |    0.4603099 AU |  00' 20.3" | -2.2
31 |   01h 03m 30.2s |   +4° 49' 24.8" |    0.4641564 AU |  00' 20.2" | -2.2
 
November 2020
Day|       RA        |       Decl      |     Distance    |  Ang Diam  | VMag
 1 |   01h 02m 45.2s |   +4° 49' 16.5" |    0.4681463 AU |  00' 20.0" | -2.1
 2 |   01h 02m 03.0s |   +4° 49' 23.5" |    0.4722775 AU |  00' 19.8" | -2.1
 3 |   01h 01m 23.6s |   +4° 49' 45.8" |    0.4765481 AU |  00' 19.6" | -2.1
 4 |   01h 00m 47.2s |   +4° 50' 23.7" |    0.4809562 AU |  00' 19.5" | -2.0
 5 |   01h 00m 13.8s |   +4° 51' 17.2" |    0.4854998 AU |  00' 19.3" | -2.0
 6 |   00h 59m 43.3s |   +4° 52' 26.3" |    0.4901771 AU |  00' 19.1" | -2.0
 7 |   00h 59m 15.8s |   +4° 53' 51.0" |    0.4949860 AU |  00' 18.9" | -1.9
 8 |   00h 58m 51.4s |   +4° 55' 31.3" |    0.4999246 AU |  00' 18.7" | -1.9
 9 |   00h 58m 30.0s |   +4° 57' 27.2" |    0.5049911 AU |  00' 18.5" | -1.9
10 |   00h 58m 11.7s |   +4° 59' 38.7" |    0.5101834 AU |  00' 18.3" | -1.8
11 |   00h 57m 56.4s |   +5° 02' 05.6" |    0.5154994 AU |  00' 18.2" | -1.8
12 |   00h 57m 44.3s |   +5° 04' 48.1" |    0.5209372 AU |  00' 18.0" | -1.8
13 |   00h 57m 35.2s |   +5° 07' 46.0" |    0.5264944 AU |  00' 17.8" | -1.7
14 |   00h 57m 29.2s |   +5° 10' 59.3" |    0.5321689 AU |  00' 17.6" | -1.7
15 |   00h 57m 26.2s |   +5° 14' 28.0" |    0.5379582 AU |  00' 17.4" | -1.7
16 |   00h 57m 26.4s |   +5° 18' 11.7" |    0.5438596 AU |  00' 17.2" | -1.6
17 |   00h 57m 29.6s |   +5° 22' 10.6" |    0.5498707 AU |  00' 17.0" | -1.6
18 |   00h 57m 35.8s |   +5° 26' 24.2" |    0.5559886 AU |  00' 16.8" | -1.6
19 |   00h 57m 44.9s |   +5° 30' 52.5" |    0.5622108 AU |  00' 16.6" | -1.5
20 |   00h 57m 57.1s |   +5° 35' 35.1" |    0.5685347 AU |  00' 16.5" | -1.5
21 |   00h 58m 12.1s |   +5° 40' 31.8" |    0.5749577 AU |  00' 16.3" | -1.5
22 |   00h 58m 30.0s |   +5° 45' 42.2" |    0.5814774 AU |  00' 16.1" | -1.4
23 |   00h 58m 50.7s |   +5° 51' 06.2" |    0.5880915 AU |  00' 15.9" | -1.4
24 |   00h 59m 14.2s |   +5° 56' 43.3" |    0.5947978 AU |  00' 15.7" | -1.4
25 |   00h 59m 40.3s |   +6° 02' 33.3" |    0.6015942 AU |  00' 15.6" | -1.3
26 |   01h 00m 09.2s |   +6° 08' 35.8" |    0.6084785 AU |  00' 15.4" | -1.3
27 |   01h 00m 40.7s |   +6° 14' 50.5" |    0.6154490 AU |  00' 15.2" | -1.3
28 |   01h 01m 14.7s |   +6° 21' 17.1" |    0.6225036 AU |  00' 15.0" | -1.2
29 |   01h 01m 51.3s |   +6° 27' 55.3" |    0.6296406 AU |  00' 14.9" | -1.2
30 |   01h 02m 30.4s |   +6° 34' 44.7" |    0.6368584 AU |  00' 14.7" | -1.2
 


   
   
   

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.


Also Follow me and other great resources at Feedspot.

Moon – Hyades Conjunction

   Spoiler Alert: This is an early morning thing! The 21-day old Waning gibbous Moon rises late tonight (September 8th) just before midnight and then will be visible above the horizon through the rest of the morning pre-dawn hours on Wednesday September 9th. During that time the Moon will be passing the open star cluster, the Hyades, and will be about 4-5o from the reddish star Aldebaran in Taurus the Bull. From mythology the v-shaped open star cluster is the face of the Bull while Aldebaran, with its reddish color, represents the ‘angry eye’ of Taurus as it prepares to attack.

   An open star cluster, like the v-shaped Hyades and the dipper-shaped Pleiades make for interesting views using binoculars, and especially when another celestial object passes by.

   
   
   

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.


Also Follow me and other great resources at Feedspot.

The Red Object Tour: From Mars to Aldebaran


   Following a close encounter (conjunction) on September 5th-6th with the ‘Red Planet’ Mars our Moon will orbit eastward waning toward last quarter phase on September 9th. On the 9th the Moon will have a not as close encounter with another red celestial object. This being the reddish star Aldebaran, the ‘angry eye’ of Taurus the Bull.
   Aldebaran is at one of the open ends of the v-shaped open star cluster, the Hyades, the shape making up the Bull’s face.

   You can follow the Moon’s changing daily position with the graphic sequence below.
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   


   
   
   

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.


Also Follow me and other great resources at Feedspot.

July Moon at Ascending Node

   Saturday July 18th the very thin 27-day old waning crescent Moon will be crossing the plane of the ecliptic moving north. 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.
   click on picture to see it largerOn the day before the node crossing the thin waning crescent Moon was a few degrees from the inner planet Venus, and a few more degrees from the reddish star Aldebaran in the open star cluster the Hyades.
   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)


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.


Also Follow me and other great resources at Feedspot.

Comet in the Clouds

   This morning, July 13th, the sky was generally overcast with thin status type clouds in most directions, including the northeast where the comet was just starting to appear over the trees marking my local horizon. Fortunately the clouds were still transparent enough for the comet to be just barely visible to the naked-eye, but very visible with time exposure pictures.
   I was hoping to position my camera so that the Baseball player would look as if he were swinging at the comet but the clouds started to thicken in that direction as I moved off the road and into some tall grasses.
   The other planets that were very visible yesterday morning were hidden or blurred by the clouds. Jupiter shined through the clouds but not Saturn or Mars. The Moon light was reflecting off clouds brightening the sky in that direction. And Venus and Aldebaran were somewhat visible but it took a time exposure picture to catch the light from the rest of the stars making the v-shaped part of the Hyades.

   
   
   

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.


Also Follow me and other great resources at Feedspot.

Comet NEOWISE or NEOWOW!!

   Could it get much better than this? Five visible planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Venus, Earth); Moon-Mars conjunction; Venus-Aldebaran conjunction; 2 outer planets and a Dwarf Planet not naked-eye visible, and Comet 2020 F3 (NEOWISE). Icing on the ‘cake’ would have been to have the ISS orbit through the sky this morning.

   
   
   

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.


Also Follow me and other great resources at Feedspot.

Taurus Eyes Venus

   Saturday morning July 11th the inner planet Venus will be about 1o from the reddish star Aldebaran in Taurus the Bull. Aldebaran marks the ‘angry eye’ of the bull and is at one end of a v-shaped group of stars, the Hyades, that make up the face of Taurus.

   Venus has just spent the past several days traversing the Hyades, an open star cluster composed of hundreds of stars. The Hyades, at a estimated distance of 150 light years, is the closest open star cluster in our galaxy to the Earth.
    With binoculars the view of Venus, the Hyades, and Aldebaran is striking with Venus brightly shining at about a -4.5 apparent magnitude and Aldebaran with a 0.9 apparent magnitude.

   Also on this day the 20-day old waning gibbous Moon will be about 4-5o from the planet Mars.

   
   
   
   
   
   

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.


Also Follow me and other great resources at Feedspot.

Crescent Moon and the Hyades

   Saturday evening April 25th, at around sunset, the 3-day old waxing crescent Moon will be 1-2o from the reddish star Aldebaran in the constellation Taurus the Bull. Aldebaran is the brightest star in Taurus and also the brightest star of the v-shaped open star cluster the Hyades.

   The combination of the waxing crescent Moon with the stars of the Pleiades will make for a good view through 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.


Also Follow me and other great resources at Feedspot.

The Moon and the Sisters

   Sunday evening March 1st the 7.5-day old nearly first quarter Moon, but still a waxing crescent Moon, will be 7-8o from the open star cluster the Pleiades. A few degrees from the Pleiades is another open star cluster the Hyades.
   These two open star clusters are part of the constellation Taurus the Bull. The Hyades make up the face of the Bull, while the Pleiades are located on the Bull’s shoulder. The Pleiades are also known as the “Seven Sisters”.
   
   
   

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.


Also Follow me and other great resources at Feedspot.