September Moon at Descending Node

   Wednesday September 23rd the 7-day old first quarter Moon crosses 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 date of the descending node the first quarter Moon will be about 20o to the east from the heart of Scorpius the Scorpion, the reddish star Antares, and about 15-16o west from Jupiter.
   Mercury and Spica are still a couple of degrees apart but low above the horizon as the Sun is setting.

   
   
   
   
   

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Mercury- Spica & Moon – Antares

   Tuesday September 22nd shortly after sunset local time look toward the western horizon for the innermost planet Mercury to be about 1o from the bluish-white star Spica in Virgo the Harvest Maiden. The two should make for an interesting comparison in apparent magnitudes with Spica at 0.96 and Mercury with a -0.01 apparent magnitude.
   The nearly first quarter but still waxing crescent Moon will be about 7-8o from the reddish star Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion. Both are positioned over the southern horizon.

   
   
   

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the Moon and the Scorpion

   Tuesday evening August 25th watch for the 7-day old first quarter Moon to be about 5o from the reddish star Antares. This star, sometimes known as ‘the rival of Mars’ because the color of the planet and Antares are strikingly similar. This is most notable during the years when Mars passes by Antares and the two are together in the sky.
    From mythology Antares is the ‘heart’ of Scorpius the Scorpion. In reality Antares is a red supergiant star that is the 15th brightest night time star. As the brightest star in the constellation of Scorpius Antares is the alpha star or α Scorpii (alpha scorpii).
   Antares is so big in size that it dwarfs many other stars, yet there stars bigger than Antares!

   
   
   

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Moon – Mars Conjunction

   Early mornings before sunrise the waning gibbous Moon is working its way eastward toward new Moon phase. Along the way the 20-day old waning gibbous Moon will be about 1o from the ‘Red Planet’ Mars on Sunday morning August 9th . Both will fit within the field of view of binoculars and should fit within the field of view of a low-power widefield type telescope eyepiece.
   The contrast in apparent magnitude is quite a range, from the Moon’s -12.0 to the -1.22 apparent magnitude of Mars.

   
   
   

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Scorpion Grabs for the Moon!

   Wednesday evening July 29th the 9-day old waxing gibbous Moon will be 3-4o from the reddish star Antares. This star is the heart of Scorpius the Scorpion and shines with a 1.0 apparent magnitude. Rising in the east are two of the giant outer ringed planets, Jupiter and Saturn. Over the southwest is Comet 2020 F3 (NEOWISE).

   
   
   
   
   
   

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Saturn at Opposition – 2020

   Monday July 20th the outer planet Saturn reaches its orbital position known as opposition. This is a position which has the faster moving Earth passing Saturn and at opposition is centered between the outer planet and the Sun. Picture the arrangement with the Moon at full phase; Sun – Earth – Moon, and that is similar to the arrangement for Saturn at opposition.
   When an outer planet, like Saturn, reaches opposition that planet rises around local time for sunset and is visible all night.
   Saturn shares the evening skies over the eastern horizon with Jupiter as both are rising around the local time for sunset. Both will be visible all night, setting around sunrise. The reddish star Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion is off to the west from the two giant ringed planets. The ‘Summer Milky Way’ arcs across the sky from the south overhead toward the northeast and if your skies are dark enough should make for awesome viewing. And off to the northwest is Comet 2020 F3 (NEOWISE).
    And rising over the eastern horizon are the three stars making up the ‘Summer Triangle’.

   
   
   
   
   

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Moon – Antares Conjunction

   Saturday morning May 9th the 16-day old waning gibbous Moon will be about 6-7o from the heart of Scorpius the Scorpion, the reddish star Antares.
   Joining the waning gibbous Moon will be the several of the visible planets arranged west to east starting with Jupiter, then Saturn, and Mars further east. The Dwarf Planet Ceres is also part of the planet spread but at 8th magnitude Ceres would require binoculars to see.

   
   
   
   

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The Moon and a Scorpion

   Saturday April 11th the 18-day old waning gibbous Moon will be about 6o from the reddish star Antares, the heart of Scorpius the Scorpion. Both will be over the southern horizon at sunrise local time. Joining the Moon and Antares are the planets Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars.

   
   
   

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Let the Triangle Point the Way

   In the morning skies, before sunrise local time, look toward the southeastern horizon for Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn to be arranged along the ecliptic in a grouping that starting with today will fit within the field of view of binoculars. If your skies are dark enough you may notice 3 bright stars arranged in a large triangle above the three planets. The stars, Vega, Deneb, and Altair, each from a different constellation, form the asterism known as the Summer Triangle.
   Over the next several days, into next month, Mars will steadily close in on Saturn for a nice close conjunction of about 1o on Tuesday March 31st.
   Further east, and lower, is the Dwarf Planet Ceres, and the innermost planet Mercury.

   And don’t forget – in the evening skies for the next several days the planet Venus will be closing in on the open star cluster, the Pleiades. This animated graphic is set for 1-day intervals from April 2nd-5th.
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
The morning planets

   
   
   

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Mars-Jupiter Close Conjunction

   Friday morning March 20th the 26-day old waning crescent Moon will be near the Dwarf Planet Ceres. However the close conjunction (1-2o) between Mars and Jupiter should be an especially good view through the eyepiece of binoculars or the eyepiece of a telescope.

   
   
   

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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