August Moon at Ascending Node – and Oh Yeah, A Total Solar Eclipse!

   Monday August 21st the new 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 August 21st the new Moon will be crossing the plane of the ecliptic at 10:34 UT (5:34 am CDT) within the constellation Leo the Lion. 8 hours later, at 18:30 UT (1:30 pm CDT), the Moon will reach new phase. This close timing between the new Moon phase and a node crossing means only one thing – eclipse!!

   My eclipse viewing area will be at an Elementary School in the North Kansas City School District. From that location totality will be approximately 80 seconds. This short video showing totality for 80 seconds, was clipped and edited from a video shot during the November 2012 total solar eclipse viewed from Australia.

   Read a bit more about this eclipse from a previous post.

      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*

   *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?”

   
   
   

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.

Mars, Phone Home!

mars-solar-conjunction-above   Thursday July 27th the planet Mars will be at solar conjunction, on the opposite side of the Sun from the Earth. Mars will reappear on the west side of the Sun as a morning planet next month and gradually will become more visible in the morning skies.
    So while Mars is out of sight for observers it is also out of ‘radio sight’ for all of the spacecraft at Mars – either on the surface or in orbit. Between July 22nd to August 1st mission controllers will stop sending messages to the spacecraft at Mars, however the orbiters will continue their science observations and collecting data. The rovers on Mars on the other hand will not rove until after the radio silence period, but will still be able to carry on with some investigations.

   Click here to read more about how NASA prepares for the radio silence.

   
   
   
   

   
   
   

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.

June Moon at Ascending Node

   Thursday June 27th the waxing crescent 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 June 27th the 4-day old waxing crescent Moon will be with the constellation Leo the Lion, and the Moon will be located less than 1o from the heart of the Lion, the star Regulus. This should make for a great view with binoculars or through the eyepiece of a telescope.
   Just above the western horizon, possibly lost in the Sun’s glare, are two more planets – Mars and Mercury about 1o apart.

   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*

*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?”

   
   
   

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 Not at Ascending Node!!

   Whoops — writing perhaps a little too early this morning I sent out a mis-dated (as in incorrect) posting about the Moon being at ascending node. It is not there today but rather on the 31st. I’ll re-post in a couple of days.
   However the sky graphic is correct so if it is clear this evening go outside and enjoy the view. Use binoculars and you could see the open star cluster, M-35, a few degrees to the right from the Moon.

   
   
   

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.

An Astro 2fer

   The title may be somewhat of a U.S.A. expression but it simply means there are two Astronomy events I am writing about and have combined them into one posting. So around sunset local time on Wednesday May 3rd the waxing, or very nearly first quarter Moon, will be within a few degrees from the star Regulus in Leo the Lion. While over the western horizon the ‘Red Planet’ Mars is near the stars making up the face of Taurus the Bull – the Hyades open star cluster.


   
   
   

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.

April Moon at Perigee

   The Moon reaches perigee, (minimum distance from Earth), this month on Friday March 3rd. At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 28.17 Earth diameters (359,327 km or 223,275 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*

   On the day of the perigee Moon the 1.5-day young thin waxing crescent Moon is above the western horizon at sunset local time and is near Dwarf Planet Ceres and the Pleiades open star cluster.

   *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?”

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to go to bobs-spaces.

A Night With the Lion

   Thursday evening April 6th and Friday morning April 7th the waxing gibbous Moon will rise and then set with Regulus, the brightest star in Leo the Lion. During the course of the night the Moon will pass within about 1o-2o from Regulus.

   Thursday evening April 6th, after sunset, look toward the west for a reddish appearing star. That is the planet Mars and about 2o to the east, left side, from Mars is Dwarf Planet Ceres, the closest of the dwarf planets. Not sure about Mars? Look for the Pleiades, an open star cluster with the brighter stars having a small dipper shape. Below the Pleiades is Mars.

   Thursday evening April 6th at sunset it may be possible to see the innermost planet Mercury in addition to seeing Mars and Jupiter, and at least with binoculars Dwarf Planet 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.