Over the next several evenings (June 14th through the 16th) the Moon, as it waxes through its gibbous phase, will pass by the Dwarf Planet Ceres and the outer giant planet Jupiter. The Moon will be about 5-6o from Ceres as it passes from the west side to the east side of the Dwarf Planet. Then it will be about 5-6o from Jupiter as it moves from the west side to the east side of the Jupiter.
Wednesday and Thursday mornings, May 1st and 2nd the 26 to 27-day old thin waning crescent Moon will pass by the inner planet Venus coming the closest on the 27th when the two will be separated by about 3-4o. A day later, Friday, the very thin waning crescent Moon will be near Mercury and the outer planet Uranus, but the Sun will be less than 45 minutes behind them – meaning the sky may be too bright to see the Moon or Mercury.
Further to the west the outer planets Saturn and Jupiter are visible in the area around Sagittarius and Scorpius. Even a bit further west is the closest Dwarf Planet to the Earth, former asteroid Ceres.
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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Monday February 18th the inner planet Venus will be about 1o from the outer planet Saturn as both rise a couple of hours before the Sun rises. The two will make for an interesting view with binoculars.
Wednesday morning January 23rd the inner planet Venus and an outer planet, Jupiter, will be rising together a couple of hours before the Sun rises. The two planets will be about 2-3o from each other and will easily fit within the field of view of binoculars. The two planets have been moving toward this conjunction and as the days pass Venus will continue moving east and away from Jupiter.
Our Moon reaches perigee, (closest distance to Earth), for this orbit on Monday November 26th. At that time the Moon will be at a distance of 28.74 Earth diameters 227,809 miles (366,623 km) from the Earth.
The 18-day old Waning gibbous rises after sunset and is visible all night between the Gemini Twin stars and the bright star Capella in Canis Minor. Off to the east is the inner planet Venus shining brightly with an apparent magnitude of -4.6, and within about 4o from the blue-white star Spica (0.9 apparent magnitude) in Virgo the Harvest Maiden. About 10o east from Venus is the closest Dwarf Planet, Ceres. With an apparent magnitude of 8.0 Ceres is not visible to the unaided eye.
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?”
Tuesday morning October 17th the Dwarf Planet Ceres will be within about 3o from M-44, the open star cluster commonly known as the Beehive Cluster. Both will easily fit within the field of view of binoculars and with some careful observation Ceres at 8th magnitude might be identified just to the left from M-44 which appears as a 4th magnitude ‘smudge’ of light.
Thursday morning July 20th watch for the thin 26-day old waning crescent Moon to be within 2-3o from the inner planet Venus as both rise a couple of hours before sunrise. The reddish star Aldebaran in Taurus the Bull will be about 10o from the Moon.
Venus and the Moon will fit nicely within the field of view of binoculars.