Moon, Spica, and Saturn

21-23 May - 10 pm CDT

21-23 May – 10 pm CDT

   Tonight, 21 May, and tomorrow the 22nd, the waxing gibbous Moon will pass by the bright blue-white star Spica and the planet Saturn to the east (left) from Spica. This part of the sky is interesting, as are all parts of the sky, however in this area is a menagerie of animals including Corvus the Crow, Crater the Cup (or wine goblet), Hydra the Many Headed Snake, Leo the Lion, and of course the Harvest Maiden Virgo.

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

Moon, Venus and Jupiter

   Yesterday, Friday, was the start of another lunar cycle with the new Moon. This evening, Saturday, the very thin waxing crescent Moon will be just above Venus at sunset – both possibly too low and still close to the Sun to be seen. However, as the 3-part slide show below displays, over the next few days the waxing crescent Moon will not only increase in phase appearance and visibility, but the Moon will be close to the planet Jupiter on Sunday evening.

m-35   On Monday the 13th the Moon will be close enough to the open star cluster, M-35, and an even fainter NGC-2158, to be seen in the field of view of 7×50 binoculars, as the banner graphic at the top of the page shows.

   The open star cluster M-35 (aka NGC 2168) contains around 2500 stars spread across an area about the size of the full Moon, and M-35 is located approximately 2800 light years from the Earth. Less than 1/2 degree from M-35 is the smaller appearing and more compact NGC-2158. This is an older open star cluster containing about the same number of stars as M-35, but NGC-2158 is several times farther – around 12,000 light years distant from the Earth.

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

Jupiter Rising with the Moon

March 23 - 7 p.m. CDT

March 23 – 7 p.m. CDT

   This evening, 23 March, the waxing gibbous Moon rises around 4 pm local time and by 9 pm local time the sky has darkened enough to make the bright Moon really hard to miss. (Now if I had said this to my grand daughter she would probably reply in her 6 year old voice, “Seriously…, grandpa?”).
   Seriously, the bright star that rises after the Moon and, as the Earth rotates, follows the Moon across the sky toward the west is the heart of Leo the Lion, the star Regulus. The animated graphic below shows the stars of Leo and the waxing gibbous Moon at 9 pm local time. All of the stars forming the asterism shape for Leo, the backward question mark and triangle, are labeled, and the stars are connected with lines to show the constellation pattern.
dogs   In the third image of the 3-picture sequence the triangle forming the lion’s tail is not drawn but the star Denebola, making the triangle’s point, is used as one of the four corners for the ‘Diamond of Virgo’ asterism. The opposite corner of the ‘diamond’ is the reddish star Arcturus belonging to the constellation Bootes the Herdsman. The upper star of the diamond is Cor Caroli, on of the stars belonging to the constellation Canes Venatici, the ‘Hunting Dogs’ used by Bootes to drive off a bear according to one sky story. And off to the left are the seven stars making the asterism the Big Dipper, part of Ursa Major ‘the Great Bear’.

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

Jupiter Meets the Moon

mar17   This evening as the Sun sets look southwest above the horizon for the waxing crescent Moon. It will be within a couple of degrees from the stars of the Hyades, a v-shaped open star cluster that forms the face of Taurus the Bull. This graphic is set for 10:30 pm while the banner is set for 8:25 pm because at that time Comet PanSTAARS will still be above the horizon.
   Click here to see the banner full-size showing the location of the comet. (This is a graphic simulation and the tail is really not that long nor is the comet that bright as the banner graphic shows.)

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