Mars – Spica Conjunction


   Starting with Wednesday November 27th and continuing for the next several days the ‘Red Planet’ Mars will pass within about 3-4o from the blue-white star Spica in Virgo the Harvest Maiden. This animated graphic is set for 5:30 am CST at 1-day intervals starting with November 27th and ending on December 3rd.
   Jupiter is several degrees further east from Mars but by this time of the morning Jupiter will have just risen.

   Those familiar with the starry sky probably have heard the mnemonic “Follow the Arc to Arcturus, then speed to Spica” as a way to use the stars forming the curved handle (the ‘Arc’) of the Big Dipper as a guide to the reddish star Arcturus and then Spica. Read a bit more about following the arc from a previous post.
   
   
   

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.

2017 Summer Solstice on Mars

A Martian Year

A Martian Year – at One Earth Month Intervals

   Monday November 20th is the summer solstice on the planet Mars as the planet transitions from spring to summer during its 684 Earth day orbit around the Sun. Seasons on Mars are marked by the planet’s heliocentric longitude coordinates using the position of Mars along its orbit around the Sun. Each seasonal start/ending point is 90 degrees apart, but because of its elliptical-shaped orbit each Martian season is of varying lengths.

   I’m not exactly sure why this particular date is used but by international agreement astronomers have selected 11 April, 1955 as 0 degrees for year 1 of this Martian calendar. What this means is that on Monday November 20th, Earth time, it is the start of summer for year 34 using the aforementioned calendar system.

Year 34
0 degrees — Spring Equinox — May 05 2017
90 degrees — Summer solstice — November 20 2017
180 degrees — Fall Equinox — May 20 2018
270 degrees — Winter Solstice — October 16 2018

Year 35
0 degrees — Spring Equinox — March 23 2019
90 degrees — Summer solstice — October 08 2019
180 degrees — Fall Equinox — April 08 2020
270 degrees — Winter Solstice — September 02 2020

Year 36
0 degrees — Spring Equinox — February 07 2021
90 degrees — Summer solstice — August 25 2021
180 degrees — Fall Equinox — February 24 2022
270 degrees — Winter Solstice — July 21 2022

Learn a little (or a lot) more about the exploration of Mars at the NASA Journey to Mars web site.

   
   
   

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 Splits the Distance


   Wednesday morning November 15th the thin 27-day waning crescent Moon will be located more or less between the planet Mars and the bluish-white star Spica in Virgo the Harvest Maiden.

   
   
   

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 Conjunction with Mars and Spica


   Tuesday morning November 14th the waning crescent Moon will be within a few degrees from the ‘Red Planet’ Mars and the bluish-white star Spica in Virgo the Harvest Maiden. Then as this animated graphic illustrates the waning crescent Moon will pass by Jupiter and then Venus over the next few days.

   
   
   

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.

Venus – Jupiter Close Conjunction

   Monday Morning November 13th the inner planet Venus and one of the outer planets, Jupiter, will have a very close conjunction with Venus coming within less than one-half degree from Jupiter. Adding to the celestial scenery is the planet Mars and the 25-day old waning crescent Moon.

   Both should make for a striking view with binoculars or a low-power telescope eyepiece, or as a picture. Venus will be shining at a -3.9 apparent magnitude compared with Jupiter’s -1.7 apparent magnitude.
This graphic shows a view using a 25mm eyepiece on a 6″ Dobsonian Telescope.

   
   
   

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.

Changing Places!


   Over the next several days the inner planet Venus will be moving eastward past the outer planet Jupiter. They will be the closest on Monday November 13th when they will be separated by less than 0.5o. This animated graphic is set for 1-day intervals running from the 8th to the 16th and shows a simulated view using 10×50 binoculars at around 6:30 am CST.

   

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


   
   
   

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 and Neptune at Heliocentric Opposition

neptune-view

   Monday October 23rd two of the outer planets, Mars and Neptune, will be at heliocentric opposition, that is on opposite sides of the Sun. On that day the two planets will be separated by 180o. Mars will have a heliocentric longitude of 163o while Neptune will be at a heliocentric longitude of 343o. (343o – 163o = 180o)
   
   
   
   
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.