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.
Friday April 12th the first quarter Moon will be within 6-7o from the star Pollux in the constellation of the Gemini Twins and will more or less fit within the field of view of 7X50 binoculars.
Friday April 12th the 7-day old waxing gibbous 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 the day of the node crossing the 7-day old first quarter Moon rises around mid-day and sets the following day.
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*
This year is the 75th anniversary for the NSTA (National Science Teachers Association), and this graphic helps to celebrate the event by highlighting Alphecca Gemma, the brightest star in the constellation Corona Borealis, the Northern Crown. This star is 75 light years distant and so the light you see coming from that star left Alphecca Gemma the year that NSTA started.
The date of April 12th was chosen because during this week Science Teachers and other educators will gather in St. Louis, MO for our annual conference. See you there?
Read this very informative article about the Earth-Moon system and their orbital motions, written by Joe Hanson. “Do We Orbit the Moon?”
Sunday September 16th the first quarter Moon will be about 8o west from the outer planet Saturn. Then the following evening, Monday the 17th, as the Moon continues orbiting eastward, the waxing gibbous Moon will be within 3-4o from Saturn, but on the east side of Saturn.
Early Monday morning September 3rd the first quarter Moon will be rising about 4o from the reddish star Aldebaran in the open star cluster the Hyades. These stars in a v-shaped arrangement mark the face of Taurus the Bull, while Aldebaran, as a reddish color, represents the angry eye of the charging bull. By sunrise local time the Moon and the Hyades will be high over the southern horizon.
This conjunction will look good through binoculars or a low-power wide-field telescope eyepiece.
Monday evening May 21st the first quarter Moon and the inner planet Venus will each be in their own respective conjunctions. Venus is within 1o from the open star cluster, M-35, located near the foot of Castor, one of the Gemini Twins. Venus currently shines with an apparent magnitude of -3.96, and at that brightness will outshine the 5th magnitude of M-35.
Nonetheless the two should be visible with binoculars, as this graphic simulates, as well as a couple of 3rd magnitude stars nearby.
Further toward the east, and unmistakable is the first quarter Moon. During the night hours the Moon, as it orbits eastward, will pass within about 1.5o from the star Regulus in Leo the Lion. Since Regulus is very close to the ecliptic there is a good chance that the Moon and Regulus will have a regular repetitive pattern or cycle of conjunctions. As in the months that Regulus is above the horizon, which include the next two months, June 18th and July 15th.