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.

Crescent Moon Near Two Planets

moon-ani   This evening, Saturday 27 September, the waxing crescent Moon will be about 0.10o away from the dwarf planet Ceres, and about 1o away from the planet Saturn. In some locations of the world ranging from East Asia and Japan to Hawaii the crescent Moon will be seen to occult, pass in front of, Ceres. A few hours later as the Moon has moved east the Moon will be seen to occult Saturn in locations across the South Pacific Ocean.

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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.

Double or Triple Dating?

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   Tuesday evening after local time for sunset there will be an opportunity to see several interesting pairs of celestial objects divided among three planets, our Moon, and several asteroids as this graphic shows. Jupiter is the single this evening, over the southwestern horizon near the twin stars of Pollux and Castor. Higher above the southern horizon is the constellation Leo the Lion with its distinctive backward question mark star pattern. At the bottom of the question mark is one of the celestial pairs, the star Regulus and the nearby asteroid 2 Pallas. Continuing eastward is the Dwarf Planet Ceres paired up with one of the larger asteroids, Vesta. Mars and the blue-white star Spica form the base of a triangle with the two asteroids as the point. Looking further eastward for the third celestial pair, and outshining everything else is the very near full Moon and a few degrees away the planet Saturn.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   As this graphic shows the asteroid 2 Pallas is close enough to the star Regulus in Leo so that both fit within the field of view of binoculars. Regulus shines at magnitude 1.4 while about 2 degrees away is the 8th magnitude asteroid Pallas.

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
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.