Duck! Said Scorpius to Sagittarius

   Over the next several mornings, before the Sun rises, the Moon, as it wanes from gibbous to last quarter phase, glides past the stars of Scorpius the Scorpion and Sagittarius the Archer and the ringed planet Saturn.
   Apparently Archery is so loud that Sagittarius didn’t hear the warning and gets a face full of the Moon on the 21st.
   In the background is the Milky Way, but for the most part it will be difficult to see due to the bright reflected light from the Moon.
   Off to the west is Jupiter and Spica. Jupiter has been in retrograde motion since last month and is gradually moving west away from Spica.
   
   
   
   
   
   
   In the background is the Milky Way, but for the most part it will be difficult to see due to the bright reflected light from the Moon.

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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.

March Moon at Apogee

 Our Moon reaches apogee, (greatest distance from Earth), on Saturday March 18th. At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 31.72 Earth diameters (404,640 km or 251,432 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)

Read this very informative article about the Earth-Moon system and their orbital motions, written by Joe Hanson. “Do We Orbit the Moon?”

   On the morning of the apogee Moon the 20-day old waning gibbous Moon rises a couple of hours before the Sun and is visible over the southern horizon.

   
   
   

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.

Saturn at Western Quadrature

saturn-west-quadrature   Friday March 17th, the position of the planet Saturn with respect to the Earth and the Sun places this ringed planet at what is called western quadrature. Saturn is at a 90 degree angle from us as this graphic shows. Think third quarter Moon as that is a fair comparison of the relative positions. At this position Saturn leads the Sun across the sky from east to west as the Earth is rotating, meaning that Saturn rises before the Sun and also sets before the Sun.

   Saturn currently is within the constellation of Sagittarius the Archer as this graphic shows. From the northern hemisphere, looking toward the southern horizon, you can find Saturn to the east, left, from the reddish star Antares. Saturn shines with an apparent magnitude of around 0.5 compared with the 1st magnitude Antares.

Learn a little (or a lot) about Saturn by visiting the Cassini at Saturn mission web site.
Click here to go to the Cassini Mission web site.

   This is a short 5 minute video I made as part of a live musical performance called “Orbit”. This is a piece from the much longer tour of the solar system performance and video and shows Saturn and some of its moons as viewed from the Cassini spacecraft that month.

   
   
   


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 Jupiter and Spica


   Tuesday evening March 14th look for the waning gibbous Moon to be about 5-6o from the giant planet Jupiter and the blue-white star Spica. Both of which are within the constellation of Virgo the Harvest Maiden. The trio will make for an interesting view with binoculars.

   
   
   

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 Gets Pawed by Leo


   Friday March 10th the waxing gibbous Moon will be within 2o from the heart of Leo the Lion, the bright star Regulus.
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

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.

A Lunar Conjunction with a Dwarf Planet


   Thursday evening March 2nd watch for the 4.5-day young waxing crescent Moon to be about 2o away from Dwarf Planet Ceres. Seeing Ceres with an apparent magnitude of around 8 may be difficult when the Moon is this close, especially using binoculars. 2march-tele
   However with a telescope Ceres should resolve into a small disc shape as this simulated view with a 25mm eyepiece on a 6″ reflector shows. There are two 6th magnitude stars on either side of Ceres that could be used as reference points for Ceres location if you are following the Dwarf Planet as it moves along its orbit.

   
   
   
   
   

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, Mars, and Uranus


   After sunset on Wednesday evening March 1st watch for the 3.5-day young waxing crescent Moon to be within about 5o from Mars and Uranus.

   
   
   

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.