April Moon at Descending Node

2jan-descending-node   Friday April 21st the 24-day old waning 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 24-day old waning crescent Moon will be over the southeast horizon at sunrise local time. The graphic includes the ecliptic and other planets so you can see the relationship between planets, the Moon, and the ecliptic. At times like this, with several planets arranged across the sky it is easy to visualize the ecliptic.   
   
   

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.

March Moon at Descending Node

2jan-descending-node
   Saturday March 25th the -day old waning 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 thin 26.7-day old waning crescent Moon will be over the southeast horizon at sunrise local time.

   
   
   

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.

Venus at Inferior Conjunction

   Saturday March 25th the inner planet Venus reaches its orbital position known as inferior conjunction.
   This is one of four points along an inner planet orbit. At inferior conjunction Venus is between the Earth and the Sun – sort of like our new Moon phase – but not necessarily directly in line. If that were so, inferior conjunction at the same time as Venus in direct line with the Earth and Sun (a node crossing at inferior conjunction) it would be a somewhat rare transit of the Sun by Venus. These happen as a pair of transits about one time each century with the last pair of Venus transits in June 2004 and June 2012. Here are some pictures of the June 2012 Venus Transit. Here is a link to the Vimeo web site to watch a video of the 2012 Venus Transit.
   By the way the next pair of Venus Transits are December 2117, and December 2125.

    At this inferior conjunction Venus is north of the ecliptic heading south toward its descending node and ecliptic crossing next month.

   
   
   
   

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.

February Moon at Descending Node and a Solar Eclipse

26feb-descending-node
   Sunday February 26th the new 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. The time for new Moon phase 14:59 UT while the time for the node crossing is 8 hours earlier at 6:40 UT. Given the close times for the two events means that there will be a solar eclipse. However the Moon, because of its elliptical shaped orbit, will be at a further distance from the Earth such that it will appear smaller in diameter than the Sun appears. This means that at mid-eclipse, or totality, the Moon will not completely cover the Sun, instead there will be a ring of sunlight around the Moon. The ring of sunlight is called the annulus and so this is an annular solar eclipse. The eclipse will be visible from parts of southern Argentina and western central Africa.
annular-eclipse-ani   On my birthday in 1994 I was ‘honored’ to not only have an annular solar eclipse on that day but the eclipse path, the path of annularity, crossed right over where I live southeast of Kansas City Missouri. This animation is of the May 10th annular solar eclipse.

   
   
   

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.

January Moon at 2nd Descending Node

(posting this ahead of time – on the road back to Quito and no Internet for a couple of days)

29jan-descending-node
   Sunday January 29th the 2-day old thin 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 2-day old waxing crescent Moon will be over the southwest horizon, below Mars and Venus, at sunset local time. The outer planet Neptune is there but too dim to be seen without some sort of optical assistance.
   These two graphics show the sky as viewed from Quito Ecuador at 0o latitude, and my home latitude of approximately 40o North.   

   
   
   

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.

December Moon Descends on Neptune

   Well not exactly descending on Neptune but on Tuesday December 6th the first quarter 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. Several hours after the node crossing the Moon will pass within less than 0.5o from Neptune – that separation depending on your longitude/time zone.
(The Moon and Neptune in the graphic have exaggerated sizes.)
   

   On the day of the node crossing the 7-day old first quarter Moon rises around mid-day local time and is visible most of the night, setting a couple of hours after midnight.

   
   
   

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.

November Moon at Descending Node

9nov-descending-node
   Wednesday November 9th 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.
   
   On the day of the node crossing the 10-day old waxing gibbous Moon rises around mid-day local time and is visible most of the night, setting a couple of hours after midnight.

   
   
   

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.