Friday evening December 28th over the western horizon around sunset look for the 3-day old waxing crescent Moon to be about 2o from the inner planet Venus. Both will easily fit within the field of view of binoculars.
I should clarify that the view of the conjunction as described above is based on my latitude and longitude in the midwest U.S.A. The separation between the Moon and Venus will vary depending on your location. At other geographic locations, like southern South America and Antarctica, the crescent Moon occults Venus.
The occultation begins at 2 UT or for my time zone at 9:00 pm CST.
This animated graphic is set for a latitude of 56oS to show the Venus Occultation. Venus was also enlarged to make it more visible in the graphic.
Monday morning before the Sun rises the 27-day old Moon waning crescent Moon will be about 4-5o from the ‘Red Planet’ Mars. Both will be over the southeastern horizon rising at least 2-3 hours ahead of the Sun.
Once in a while the planets are arranged such that they are spread across the sky as they look in this graphic. However over time, several days, this arrangement changes as the planets continue moving along their orbits.
The planets are not lined up in a straight line outward from the Sun but rather are arranged along the ecliptic. The ecliptic is the Earth’s orbital path around the Sun and the respective orbit of each planet is inclined from the ecliptic. And this is one of those times when it is easy to visualize the ecliptic. Click here to read a previous posting about the ecliptic and planet inclination.
This animated graphic is showing the terrestrial planets as they move along their respective orbits for this month. They are not ‘lined up’ as they appear to be in the above horizon picture.
At around sunset Thursday November 28th look toward the western horizon for the 2.5-day old thin waxing crescent Moon to be close to the inner planet Venus, and an outer planet, Jupiter. The Moon will be about 1-2o from Venus and about 6o from Jupiter.
Too dim to be seen with the naked eye at 8-9th magnitude and about 3o from the Moon is the Dwarf Planet Ceres.
The planet Saturn is about 12o to the east from the Moon – which is where the Moon will be on the evening of November 29th. The two will be about 1-2o from one another.
Both of these conjunctions between the Moon and planets are tight enough such that both groupings will easily fit 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.
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Sunday November 24th there will a photo or viewing opportunity during the twilight hour before the Sun rises and after the sun has set. Starting off the day will be a conjunction involving the very thin waning crescent Moon near the ‘Red Planet’ Mars. The two will be separated by about 3-4o. Lower or to the east is the innermost planet Mercury.
Then, approximately 12 hours later, the Sun has or is about to set and over the western horizon is a cluster of 3 planets. Close together and separated by about 1-2o are the planets Jupiter and Venus. Higher or to the east is the planet Saturn.
Both of these conjunctions will look great through binoculars or a wide-field eyepiece on a telescope, and obviously will make for interesting pictures.
Thursday evening October 31st look toward the western horizon but not for trick or treaters. Rather look for the two inner planets to be within about 2-3o from each other, and a bit further eastward for the Moon to be about 4-5o from Jupiter. Also the Dwarf Planet Ceres is within 3-4o from the crescent Moon. However Ceres is at 8th as compared with Jupiter at -2.0 and the crescent Moon at -11.0 apparent magnitudes. And before anyone asks Venus is at -3.9 and Mercury at 0.63 apparent magnitude.
Each of the pairs will easily fit within the field of view of binoculars.