Moon Uranus Together Again

   Wednesday August 5th the 20-day old waning gibbous Moon will again be near the outer planet Uranus. Throughout this year the Moon and Uranus have had close conjunctions due to Uranus orbiting near the plane of the ecliptic, and the Moon’s inclined orbit bringing it either above, on, or below the ecliptic.

   
   
   
   

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.

August Perigee Moon

aug2-perigee-moon   The Moon reaches perigee, (minimum distance from Earth), this month on Sunday August 2nd at 10:08 UT (5:08 am CDT). At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 28.39 Earth diameters (362,139 km or 225,027 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*
*Click here to read my 2006 Scope on the Sky column “The Real Shape of the Moon’s Orbit”. (PDF)

   The 18-day old waning gibbous Moon rises around 11 pm local time and is over the southern horizon at sunrise. As this graphic shows the Moon is more or less where it was at this time and Moon phase last month below the right side of the asterism “the Square of Pegasus” and nearly in line with that side.

   
   
   

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.

Planets – Big and Small

   Saturday July 25th the waxing Gibbous Moon, just past first quarter phase, will be within a few degrees from the planet Saturn. During this conjunction the two will rise at around local time, and be visible throughout the length of the night. Down to the left from the Moon and Saturn look for a reddish star. This is Antares, the heart of Scorpius the Scorpion.
   Closer to the Earth the dwarf planet Ceres moves into an orbital position known as opposition. Only Sun orbiting objects beyond the Earth’s orbital distance may be at opposition, with an arrangement of the Sun-Earth-outer orbiting object.
   Ceres rises before midnight local time and would be visible throughout the length of the night. Currently NASA’s Dawn Mission spacecraft is now in orbit around 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.

February Ascending Moon

feb8-ascending-node   On Sunday February 8th our Moon will be crossing the plane of the ecliptic moving north. This is known as the ascending node, one of two intersections the Moon’s orbital path (dark green line) has with the ecliptic.

   The waning gibbous Moon rises around midnight local time and is easily seen over the western horizon at sunrise. Jupiter sets around the time of sunrise so it, and the star Regulus in Leo the Lion will still be above the western horizon and visible as this graphic shows.

   
   
   
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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.

February Apogee Moon

5feb-apogee-moon   The waning gibbous Moon reaches apogee this month on Thursday February 5th at midnight CST, (6 UT Friday February 6th). At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 31.83 Earth diameters (406,150 km or 252,370 miles) from the Earth.
    Our Moon orbits around the Sun with the Earth and 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*.

   The waning gibbous Moon rises before midnight local time and is near the tail star, Denebola, in Leo the Lion.

   *Click here to read my 2006 Scope on the Sky column “The Real Shape of the Moon’s Orbit”. (PDF)

   
   
   
   
[centup]
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.

January Apogee Moon

jan9apogee-moon   The waning gibbous Moon reaches apogee this month on Friday January 9th at 18 UT (12 pm CST). At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 31.78 Earth diameters (405,408 km or 251,909 miles) from the Earth.
    Our Moon orbits around the Sun with the Earth and 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*.

   The waning gibbous Moon rises before midnight local time and is near the tail star, Denebola, in Leo the Lion.

   *Click here to read my 2006 Scope on the Sky column “The Real Shape of the Moon’s Orbit”. (PDF)

   
   
   
   
[centup]
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.

Twins Drop Kick the Moon!

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   Early Tuesday morning, October 14th, the waning gibbous Moon will be rising near the feet of the celestial tag-team, the Gemini Twins, Pollux and Castor. Within the field of view of binoculars, (about 7o), from the Moon, is the open star cluster M-35. This open star cluster is estimated to be 2800 light years away. With its apparent size of nearly one-half degree and its overall apparent magnitude of 5 allows M-35 to be just visible to the unaided eye in dark enough skies.

m35-bino-ani   With the use of binoculars M-35 begins to be seen as more than a fuzzy patch of light, however through a low power telescope eyepiece M-35 resolves into a nice somewhat close grouping of stars.
   Caveat Astronomer! Since the nearly last quarter Moon is close to M-35 it is not unreasonable to assume that moonlight will brighten the sky enough to dim out many of the stars in M-35. If that proves to be the case wait a few more days until the Moon has moved far enough east to no longer interfere.

   
   
   
[centup]
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.