May Moon at Ascending Node

   Sunday May 20th the waxing crescent Moon will be crossing the plane of the ecliptic moving north relative to the ecliptic. This is known as the ascending node, one of two intersections the Moon’s orbital path has with the ecliptic. The ecliptic is actually the Earth’s orbit and the Moon’s orbit is inclined about 6o from the ecliptic. So there are two node intersections, the ascending and descending nodes.

   On Sunday evening May 20th the 5.5-day old waxing crescent Moon will be just within the boundaries of Leo the Lion and about 14o west (right) from the ‘Heart’ of the Lion, the star Regulus.

   Does our Moon actually go around the Earth as many graphics show? 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?”

   
   
   

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.

Ceres is at Perihelion

   Friday April 28th Saturday April 28th the closest Dwarf Planet to the Earth, Ceres, reaches perihelion, it’s closest to the Sun this orbit. At perihelion Ceres will be within the boundaries of the constellation Cancer the Crab, and will be approximately 2.56 AU (382,970,549 km; 237,966,866 miles) from the Sun, and 2.33 AU (348,563,038 km; 216,587,031 miles) from the Earth, and ‘shining’ with an apparent magnitude of around 7.50.

    Further east from the location of Ceres is the nearly full Moon about 7-8o from the blue-white star Spica in the constellation Virgo the Harvest Maiden. And rising a little will be the planet Jupiter, and still later Saturn 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.

Uranus at Opposition

view-from-uranus
   Thursday October 19th the outer planet Uranus reaches a position in its orbit around the Sun when it is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun. This coincidentally is known as opposition, and it is an orbital position which only the planets further from the Sun than the Earth may reach.

   At opposition the outer planet rises and sets in a fashion similar to our Moon when it is at full phase, in that the outer planet at opposition rises at sunset and sets at sunrise.

   On Thursday the outer planet Uranus will be several degrees from an even more outer planet, Dwarf Planet Eris. Both rise during the evening hours and are over the southwestern horizon before sunrise.

   
   
   
   
   
   

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.

Waning Crescent Moon Near Dwarf Planet Ceres, and M-44

   Friday morning October 13th, in the hours before sunrise, look toward the eastern horizon for the 23-day old waning crescent Moon to be about 15o east, to the left from the star Procyon (0.37 apparent magnitude). The Moon will also be to the west, right, about 4o from the open star cluster M-44, the Beehive Cluster, and about 6o from Dwarf Planet Ceres.

   The above graphic is set for 3:30 am CDT and not shown in that graphic are the planets Venus and Mars. You may see them here in this graphic set for two hours later – 6:30 am CDT.

   
   
   

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.

April Moon at Perigee

   The Moon reaches perigee, (minimum distance from Earth), this month on Friday March 3rd. At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 28.17 Earth diameters (359,327 km or 223,275 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*

   On the day of the perigee Moon the 1.5-day young thin waxing crescent Moon is above the western horizon at sunset local time and is near Dwarf Planet Ceres and the Pleiades open star cluster.

   *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?”

   
   
   

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.

Ceres at Opposition

   Friday October 21st Dwarf Planet Ceres reaches opposition. This places the Earth in between Ceres and the Sun, much like the arrangement of the Sun, Earth, and Moon during full Moon phase. When at opposition an outer planet is visible for most if not all of the night hours as it rises around sunset and then sets around sunrise.


   Ceres, at 7th magnitude, is currently within the boundaries of the constellation Cetus the Sea Monster. Ceres is bright enough to see with binoculars, and is less than 5 o from the long period variable star Mira, or aka “Mira the Wonderful”.

   Learn more about Dwarf Planet Ceres by visiting the NASA Dawn mission web site where we have the Dawn spacecraft orbiting Ceres.
   
   
   
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.

Ceres at Opposition

   Monday June 29th Dwarf Planet Ceres reaches opposition. This places the Earth in between Ceres and the Sun, much like the arrangement of the Sun, Earth, and Moon during full Moon phase. When at opposition an outer planet is visible for most if not all of the night hours as it rises around sunset and then sets around sunrise.

   Ceres, at 7th magnitude, is currently within the boundaries of the constellation Capricornus the Sea Goat and is about 1o west from 4th magnitude Omega Capricorni. Ceres is bright enough to see with binoculars and regular observing will show Ceres moving away from Omega Capricorni.

   Learn more about Dwarf Planet Ceres by visiting the NASA Dawn mission web site where we have the Dawn spacecraft orbiting Ceres.

   
   
   

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.