Waxing Crescent Moon Near the Pleiades


   Thursday evening February 22nd the 7-day old first quarter Moon will be 8-9o from the open star cluster the Pleiades, and about 7o from the open star cluster the Hyades. With my 10×50 binoculars the two star clusters are just out of the field of view, but become visible with a slight nudge of my head!

   
   
   

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.

February Moon at Descending Node


   Wednesday February 14th the thin waning crescent Moon will be crossing the plane of the ecliptic moving south. This is known as the descending node, one of two intersections the Moon’s orbital path (dark green line) has with the ecliptic.
    
   
     

   On the day of the node crossing the 28-day old waning crescent Moon will be over the eastern horizon about an hour before the Sun rises. The Moon will reach new phase approximately 24 hours after this node crossing.
   
   
   
      

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.

Mars Meets Antares

   Monday morning February 12th the ‘Red Planet’ Mars will be within about 5o from the reddish star Antares, the heart of Scorpius the Scorpion. Both Mars and Antares currently have the same apparent magnitude of 1.03.
   Antares owes its name to its near matching color of the reddish colored planet Mars. I have often described the name Antares origin as meaning ‘anti mars’, to distinguish the star from the planet. Sort of like saying at times like now when they are close that ‘that reddish object is not Mars’. However the name Antares from the Greek really means ‘equal to Mars’

   This part of the sky, the summer sky for the northern hemisphere, has probably the best view of the Milky Way despite it being early morning. So it is with a great deal of excitement that as Mars approaches Antares and soon Saturn Mars is moving closer to the Milky Way.

   
   
   

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.

February Moon at Apogee

   Our Moon reaches apogee, (greatest distance from Earth), on Sunday February 11th. At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 31.80 Earth diameters (405,700 km or 252,090 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 apogee the 25.6-day old very thin waning crescent Moon will be over the eastern horizon at around sunrise local time and within about 2o from the ringed planet Saturn.

   Since the Moon and Saturn are in the area of the Milky Way this should make for interesting viewing with Binoculars and pictures,

*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.

Moon – Mars Conjunction


   Friday morning February 9th the 23-day old waning crescent Moon will be within 4-5o from the red planet Mars, and about 8o from the reddish star Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion.

   
   
   

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 – Jupiter Conjunction


   Wednesday morning February 7th the 21-day old waning gibbous Moon will be within 6-7o from the ringed giant gas planet Jupiter. Mars is next in line for a conjunction with 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 – Spica Conjunction

click on graphic to see it larger
   Monday morning February 5th the 19-day old waning gibbous Moon will be within 6-7o from the blue-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.