December Moon at Descending Node


   Monday December 10th the 3.5-day old waxing crescent 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.
   
   
   

   On the day of the node crossing the 3.5-day old waxing crescent Moon will be over the southwest horizon about an hour after the Sun sets.

   
   
   
   
   

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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October Moon at Apogee and at Descending Node

   Wednesday October 17th the 9-day old waxing gibbous Moon will be crossing 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.
   Also on the same day the waxing gibbous Moon reaches apogee, (greatest distance from Earth), on Wednesday October 17th. At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 31.69 Earth diameters, (251,175 miles (404,227 km), from the Earth.

   

   
   
   

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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A Busy Moon: Apogee; Descending Node; Mars Conjunction

   Thursday September 20th the waxing gibbous 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.

   Our Moon also reaches apogee, (greatest distance from Earth), on Thursday September 20th. At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 31.74 Earth diameters (361,354 km or 224,535 miles) from the Earth.

   On the evening of the apogee and node crossing the 11-day old waxing gibbous Moon will be over the southeast horizon at sunset in conjunction with the ‘Red Planet’, passing within 10-11o east from the planet Mars. Joining the Moon and Mars are the planets Saturn, Jupiter, and Venus – all to the west from the Moon and 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.


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July Full Moon at Apogee, Descending Node, A Lunar Eclipse, and Conjunction with Mars

Apogee Moon
   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?”

Descending Node
   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).

Conjunction
   On the day of the apogee and descending node the full Moon will be over the southern horizon and within about 6-7o 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.


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June Moon at Descending Node and Conjunction with Mars


   Sunday June 3rd the waning gibbous 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.
   


   On the morning of the node crossing the 19-day old waning gibbous Moon will be over the south-southeastern horizon about an hour before the Sun rises local time. The Moon will also be about 3o from the ‘red planet’ Mars. Off to the west is the planet Saturn nestled within the glow of the eastern side of the Milky Way.

   Depending on how dark the sky is where you are viewing from and how early you want to go outside, the area around Saturn is rich with some of the best deep-sky objects visible with binoculars. So the earlier you are out, before moonrise, the darker the sky will appear making it easier to see some of Messier Objects in the area near Saturn.

   
   
   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to go to bobs-spaces.

May Moon at Descending Node


   Monday May 7th the waning gibbous 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.
   
   
   

   On the day of the node crossing the 21-day old waning gibbous Moon will be over the southeastern horizon about an hour before the Sun rises.

   
   
   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to go to bobs-spaces.

Orbital Ups and Downs


   All solar orbiting objects will at some point in their respective orbit cross the plane of the ecliptic. The ecliptic is actually the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, however from our perspective on the Earth it appears as if the Sun is moving eastward along the ecliptic.
   On April 12th the inner planet Venus will be at its ascending node as it crosses the ecliptic moving north. And the next day, April 13th, Mercury will be at its descending node moving south as it crosses the ecliptic.

   
   
   

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.