The Moon and Uranus – They Are Not the Same Thing!

   Ok, so how can you Moon Uranus? Yeah I know – a sad, and bad joke. Let’s put it behind us.
   Sunday morning, August 13th, the 21-day old waning gibbous Moon rises within a few degrees from the planet Uranus. Both are within the eastern fish of the constellation Pisces the Fishes. Uranus ‘shines’ at just under 6th magnitude so it is possible to see the 7th main planet from the Sun with binoculars. However the reflected light from the Moon will brighten the sky more than enough to drown out the dimmer light from Uranus and most other stars in the area making them not visible.
   Not that it will be visible but near the Moon on the opposite side from Uranus is one of the dwarf planets, Eris. However at nearly 19th magnitude and almost 95.729 AU, (8,898,566,474 miles ; 14,320,854,563 km) from the Earth it is all but impossible to see without some serious amateur equipment, at an observatory, or with the Hubble Telescope. Add approximately an additional 1 AU (93,000,000 miles; 1,496,68992,000 km) to get its distance from the Sun.
   What did I say about enough of the ‘bad jokes’? This cartoon reminded me of the statement, “Captain, We’re orbiting Uranus searching for Klingons.”

   
   
   
   
   
   Speaking of Uranus here is a portion of the Orbits performance video showing Uranus and some of its moons.

   
   
   

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.

Thin Waning Crescent Moon in Conjunction with Venus


   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.

   
   
   
   

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.

A Night With the Lion

   Thursday evening April 6th and Friday morning April 7th the waxing gibbous Moon will rise and then set with Regulus, the brightest star in Leo the Lion. During the course of the night the Moon will pass within about 1o-2o from Regulus.

   Thursday evening April 6th, after sunset, look toward the west for a reddish appearing star. That is the planet Mars and about 2o to the east, left side, from Mars is Dwarf Planet Ceres, the closest of the dwarf planets. Not sure about Mars? Look for the Pleiades, an open star cluster with the brighter stars having a small dipper shape. Below the Pleiades is Mars.

   Thursday evening April 6th at sunset it may be possible to see the innermost planet Mercury in addition to seeing Mars and Jupiter, and at least with binoculars Dwarf Planet Ceres.

   
   
   

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.

A Planet Buffet

   Friday night December 9th offers up a planet buffet featuring eight planets above the horizon and one under your feet. As this graphic shows one of the outermost of the 8 planets, Uranus, is above the eastern horizon as are two Dwarf Planets, Ceres and Eris, and the waxing gibbous Moon. Further west over the southern horizon is the outermost of the 8 planets, Neptune, and over the southwest horizon are Mars, Venus, Pluto, and Mercury. And under your feet? Look down to see the Earth – can’t miss it!
   Ceres is the closest Dwarf Planet to us as it is within the main asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars. The other Dwarf Planet is Eris which at 96 AU is located much further than Ceres (2.2 AU) and Uranus (19.4 AU) and Neptune (30 AU).

   
   
   

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.

The Besta of Vesta

vesta-7oct   Yeah I know, the title is bad but it was the besta I could do at the moment.
   Asteroid Vesta, is the second largest asteroid in the main belt of asteroids between Mars and Jupiter. It is also the second most massive asteroid after the former asteroid, now dwarf planet, Ceres. Vesta is also the brightest and easiest of the main belt asteroids to see from Earth, and this month could be a good time to dust off the binoculars or telescope and take a look.

   Asteroid Vesta rises at around 8 pm local time and is currently located within the western side of the constellation Cetus the Whale, and over the next several days will be passing by a 2nd magnitude star, Iota Ceti. That is the ‘dot’in the center of the binocular field.

click on graphic to see it larger   To be fair, taking a look at an asteroid, even one like Vesta, is about like looking at a star. In one night the only apparent movement of the object is from Earth rotation. However careful observing, perhaps making a sketch or taking a picture of the area of the sky where Vesta is located every couple of days the motion of the asteroid should become apparent as it will be the only ‘star’ moving relative to the other stars in your sketch or picture.
This animated graphic using inverted colors is simulating a view with 10×50 binoculars. It shows the movement of Vesta daily between the 8th and 31st of this month. Click here to see the same graphic with the regular colors.

   Get very specific observing information for your viewing location from the Heavens Above web site. Choosing your viewing location is as easy as zooming in on the Google map and setting the marker where you view from. Click on update to set your location. Once you have set your viewing location you can then choose from many options. Obviously choose asteroids, then choose Vesta!

   Learn more about Asteroid Vesta and Dwarf Planet Ceres at NASA’s Dawn Mission web site.

   Traverse the Vesta terrain at NASA’s Vesta Trek web site.

   
   
   
   

Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

Crescent Moon Near Two Planets

moon-ani   This evening, Saturday 27 September, the waxing crescent Moon will be about 0.10o away from the dwarf planet Ceres, and about 1o away from the planet Saturn. In some locations of the world ranging from East Asia and Japan to Hawaii the crescent Moon will be seen to occult, pass in front of, Ceres. A few hours later as the Moon has moved east the Moon will be seen to occult Saturn in locations across the South Pacific Ocean.

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Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

The Moon Traverses Virgo

   For the next few days the Moon will travel eastward across the length of the constellation Virgo the Maiden. During those few days the Moon will be waxing from a thin crescent toward first quarter phase on September 2nd. Along the way it will be near the planet Mercury on Wednesday evening August 27th, then, Porrima a 3rd magnitude star, then Virgo’s alpha star the 1st magnitude Spica. Then as an added bonus the Moon will near the 9th magnitude Dwarf Planet Ceres.
   But wait!! There is more. On the 31st the Moon will be close to Mars and Saturn. Depending on your location The Moon will occult the planet Saturn.

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Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.