Venus Gets Buzzed!

   Tuesday morning August 1st the inner planet Venus will pass within 3o from the open star cluster, M-35. Also known as the ‘Beehive Cluster’ this is an open star cluster located near the feet of the Gemini Twins. M-35 consists of several hundred stars and is approximately 2800 light years from our solar system. The star cluster has an apparent magnitude of around 5.5 making it naked-eye visible and certainly a binocular-worthy object.

   Through binoculars it is easy to see M-35 as well as a 3rd and a 2nd magnitude star within a couple of degrees. However the ‘ruler’ of the binocular field of view is Venus with a -4.0 magnitude.

   
   
   

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.

Full Moon – Spoiler Alert!

   Wednesday December 14th the Moon will be at its full phase and while pleasing to observe the reflected light from the Moon plus any local light pollution spoils the night sky as either one or both brightens the night sky making it difficult to impossible to see much of anything except the very brightest of celestial objects. What this brighter sky means in terms of December 14th is that the nearby open star cluster M-35 will not be seen, nor will the Geminids Meteor Shower with a radiant near the Moon and which peaks on the 14th.
   
   
   

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.

Moon Near Castor’s Feet


   Monday May 9th the 3.3-day old waxing crescent Moon will be a few degrees from M-35, an open star cluster located near the feet of Castor, one of the Gemini Twins. As an open start cluster M-35 is about 2800 light years distant and contains several hundred stars spread out across about 0.5o of sky, about the size of the full Moon.

   9may-binoWith a 7×50 binocular the waxing crescent Moon and M-35 will fit within the field of view. Nearby are two 3rd magnitude stars marking Castor’s feet which should ontrast nicely with the 5th magnitude glow of M-35.
   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

Another Two for One

   Saturday evening around an hour or so after sunset local time three planets will be visible above the southwestern to western horizons. Lowest is the innermost planet Mercury. It is actually best viewed a little earlier as at the time shown in this graphic Mercury is just about to set. On the other hand Venus shining with an apparent magnitude of -4.15, and much higher above the horizon Jupiter with a -2.15 apparent magnitude would be difficult to miss. Both of these planets are each near an open star cluster. Near enough so that each of these planet/star cluster pairs will fit within the field of view of binoculars.


   Venus is within 2o from the open star cluster M-35. This is a grouping of several hundred stars located at a distance of around 2800 light years that shines with a combined apparent magnitude of between 5 and 6. This puts it right around the naked eye limit but visible with binoculars. Jupiter is within 6-7o from the open star cluster M-44, or the ‘Beehive Cluster’. This easily seen star cluster has an apparent magnitude of around 3.5 and is composed of 300 stars located at a distance of around 155 light years.

   
   
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.

Moon Near M-35 and Venus

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   On Thursday morning the 24th the very thin 27-day old waning crescent Moon rises near the planet Venus and the open star cluster M-35. This is the 3rd posting in about as many days that included the open star cluster M-35. But when celestial objects are near the ecliptic then the Moon and the 8 planets all have opportunities to interact with the near-ecliptic objects. This is the case for the open star cluster M-35, which has had the two inner planets Mercury and Venus, and now the Moon come within a few degrees.

24july-bino   As this graphic shows the Moon, Venus, and M-35 are all within a small enough space to fit within the field of view of 7×50 binoculars. The Moon may or may not be a challenge to see depending on your local horizon, nonetheless it will be a very thin crescent with between 5-6% of its disk still reflecting sunlight.

   
   
   
[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.

Venus and M-35

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   Sunday morning, 20 July, the planet Venus will be within 2o from the open star cluster M-35, a fairly easy to see object with the naked-eye and binoculars in reasonably dark skies. Looking like an out-of-focus star M-35 is an open star cluster located near the feet of Castor, one of the Gemini Twins. M-35 consists of several hundred stars in a group spanning about 30″, about the size of the full Moon. M-35 shines at an apparent magnitude of around 4.5 as compared with the -4.0 magnitude of nearby Venus.

20july-bino   Adding to viewing is the other inner planet, Mercury, located about 6o down to the left from Venus as this graphic shows.

   
   
   
[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.

Mercury, Venus and M-35

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   Early Tuesday (15 July) morning before the Sun rises there may be an opportunity to see the two inner planets Venus and Mercury both of which are within 7o from the open star cluster M-35. You can fit the three within the field of view of 7×50 binoculars.
15july-bino   To find them look toward the eastern horizon and locate the very brilliant Venus (-4.0 magnitude) about 10-15 degrees above the horizon. This is not very high above the horizon, about a fist-width held at arm’s length, but Venus is unmistakable. Finding Mercury (0.04 magnitude) may be an issue depending on the time you are doing this and of course your local horizon.
   So, if you have binoculars hold them as this graphic shows – with Venus at the upper right at around 2 on a clock. Mercury will be at the 6 o’clock position near the bottom of the binocular field of view. Keeping the analog clock analogy going the open star cluster M-35 (5.5 magnitude) will be at the 8 o’clock position.

   
   
   
[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.

Moon and Star Clusters

Click on image to see full size.

Click on image to see full size.

   Before sunrise on Friday morning 30 August look toward the east for the group of stars and constellations making up a familiar part of the northern hemisphere winter skies. Part of this group, temporarily, is the waning crescent Moon as it works its way eastward. The Moon will be within the field of view of 7×50 binoculars from two open star clusters. M-35 is an open star cluster that is approximately 2800 light years distant and contains several hundred stars shining with a combined brightness of around 5th-6th magnitude.
   Just one-half degree from M-35 is the much fainter star cluster NGC-2158.
Click on image to see full size

Click on image to see full size.

This is a much smaller and fainter group of stars that are estimated to be around 11,000 light years distant and has an apparent magnitude of between 8 and 9.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information.

Mars – Jupiter Conjunction

22 July - 5:30 am CDT

22 July – 5:30 am CDT

   Tomorrow morning, 22 July, the planets Mars and Jupiter will be less than 1 degree apart. Look toward the east-northeast horizon for the bright Jupiter and the dimmer Mars nearby. The banner graphic at the top of the page as well as this graphic are set for 5:30 am CDT. By that time the sky is fairly bright but it may still be dark enough to make out the stars of the open star cluster M-35, just above the two planets. All three objects will easily fit within the field of view of 7×50 binoculars.

   
   
   
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information.