Thursday evening September 5th the 6.6-day old first quarter Moon will be about midway between the outer ‘giant’ ringed planet Jupiter, and Ceres, as well as near the reddish Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion. This interesting grouping will not quite fit within a 7o binocular field of view but nonetheless will be a striking grouping. And for the record, Ceres is the closest dwarf planet to Earth.
Our Moon reaches apogee, (greatest distance from Earth), for this orbit, on Saturday August 17th. At that time the Moon will be at a distance of 31.84 Earth diameters 251,954 miles (405,480 km) 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?”
Wednesday June 19th the 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 17.0-day old waning gibbous Moon will be over the southern horizon and will be about 13-14o to the east from the ringed planet Saturn.
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.