Over the next 10 days, from August 13th to the 23rd, the Moon will move eastward, as it always does, following the ecliptic and interacting with planets and stars near the ecliptic.
click on any graphic below to view each of the graphics full sized.
Monday evening August 13th the thin 2.5-day young waxing crescent Moon will be about 10o from the inner planet Venus, and about 8o from the Dwarf Planet Ceres. However at 8th magnitude Ceres will be not be naked-eye visible, but Venus at a -4.6 apparent magnitude will be hard to miss!
And spread out from west to east are the planets Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars.
Monday morning August 6th the 24-day old waning crescent Moon will be about 4o from the reddish star Aldebaran, part of the open star cluster the Hyades. This v-shaped cluster of stars marks the face of Taurus the Bull, and Aldebaran represents the red ‘angry’ eye of Taurus.
Our Moon reaches apogee, (greatest distance from Earth), on Friday July 27nd. At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 31.84 Earth diameters (406,223 km or 252,415. 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*
*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?”
Friday July 27th the full Moon will be crossing 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.
Total Lunar Eclipse
When the Moon crosses the ecliptic, a node crossing, and the Moon is either at full or new phase there will be an eclipse. The length of the eclipse and whether or not it will be partial or total depends upon the timing. The closer the two events are to each other the greater the eclipse. This total lunar eclipse will be a long one at nearly 2 hours for totality. However the eclipse will not be visible from North America.
Get eclipse information from the Hermit Eclipse web site.
Watch the Lunar Eclipse live. Webcast hosted by the Bareket Observatory in Israel. Webcast starts at 18:30 UTC (1:30 pm CDT).
Friday evening July 20th the 8-day old waxing gibbous Moon will be 3-4o from the ringed planet Jupiter. Joining Jupiter to the west is Venus, and east from Jupiter are the planets Saturn and Mars.
Close to Jupiter is 3rd magnitude star Zubenelgenubi in Libra the Scales.
This is one of those ‘best of times’ with regard to planet viewing. All of the visible planets are above the horizon although Mercury sets just before Mars rises. Times like this make it easy to visualize the ecliptic and its relationship with the planets. And our Moon, as it waxes toward full phase over the next several days, will pass by several planets and dwarf planets.
Click on a graphic to start a slide show.
The three, Moon, Venus, and Regulus, all fit comfortably within a binocular field of view.