March Moon at 2nd Perigee

   Our Moon reaches perigee, (closest to Earth), for the second time this orbit, on Tuesday March 30th. For this perigee the 18-day old waning gibbous Moon will be at a distance of 28.24 Earth diameters, 223,880 miles (360,300 km) from the Earth.

   On the date of the perigee Moon the 18-day old waning gibbous Moon will rise around 10 pm local time. The Moon is within the boundaries of Libra the Scales and on either side of the Moon are two stars with interesting sounding names. They are the stars Zubeneschamali and Zubenelgenubi. Despite these two stars belonging to the constellation Libra the Scales the translation of the star names mean “Northern Claw” (Zubeneschamali), and “Southern Claw” (Zubenelgenubi) of Scorpius the Scorpion.


   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 Scope on the Sky column “The Real Shape of the Moon’s Orbit”. (PDF)

   
   
   
   

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.

Virgo Grabs for the Moon


   Monday evening the 16-day old waning gibbous Moon will be about 7-8o 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.

Moon – Regulus Conjunction


   Thursday evening March 25th the 12.6-day old waxing gibbous Moon will be about 2-3o from the ‘Heart of the Lion’, the star Regulus in Leo the Lion.

   
   
   

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 View From Mars

   I was looking at this picture from the other evening I got to thinking about the Rovers on Mars would see if they looked toward the Earth?

   So as you wonder about that question, here is a look at Mars, by NASA, from last century (I love saying that instead of many years ago!), using data from the first Mars Orbiters. Take a simulated fly over the Martian surface above Mariner Valley and the large Martian volcanoes. Appropriately titled “Mars, the Movie”.


   What would Earth look like from the surface of Mars?
Here is a picture of Earth taken by the Rover Curiosity.

   
   
   
   
   Here is what it looks like using Starry Night Pro 8+ software to model the view from the latitude and longitude of the Perseverance Rover landing site in Jezero Crater, (18.4446°N 77.4509°E).
(The viewing location is correct however for depicting the Martian surface my software uses a view at the landing site for the Sojourner Rover.)


   

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 Northernmost Declination

click on graphic to see it larger   Our Moon does not follow a path with the Earth around the Sun that is parallel with the Earth’s orbit, the ecliptic. The Moon is tilted or inclined by approximately 5.14o from the Earth’s orbital path meaning that there are places where the Moon’s orbital path intersects or crosses the Earth’s orbital path, the ecliptic. At up to 3 times each month the Moon will cross the ecliptic moving south or north in what is called a node crossing – one ascending and the other descending.

    However with regard to the celestial equator, an extension of the Earth’s equator into space, the maximum declination for our Moon, as measured from the celestial equator, could be as much as about 28.64o either north or south based on the Earth’s axial tilt of 23.5o plus the Moon’s inclination angle 5.14o (23.5 + 5.14 = 28.64o).

    This month our Moon reaches a maximum northernmost declination of 25.3o on Monday March 22nd.

   
   
   

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.

Waxing Crescent Moon – Mars Conjunction

   Friday evening March 19th look for the 6.7-day old waxing crescent Moon to be about 3o from the ‘Red Planet’ Mars, and about 5-6o from the reddish star Aldebaran in Taurus the Bull. All three should just barely fit within the field of view of 7×50 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.

A 3-for-1 Moon Event!

               Apogee – Descending Node – Conjunction with the Pleiades
   
Apogee Moon
   Our Moon reaches apogee, (furthest from Earth), for this orbit, on Thursday March 18th. For this apogee the 6.6-day old waxing crescent Moon will be at a distance of 31.77 Earth diameters, 251,841 miles (405,300 km) from the Earth.

Descending Node
   The 6.6-day old waxing crescent Moon crosses 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.

Conjunction with the Pleiades
   The apogee Moon, at nearly first quarter phase, will be above the western horizon and will be within a few degrees from the open star cluster the Pleiades. This should make for a good view with binoculars.


   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 Scope on the Sky column “The Real Shape of the Moon’s Orbit”. (PDF)
   
   
   
   
   
   

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.

Birds of Galveston Island

   I like to hike and especially the higher the hike (not me!) the happier I seem to be. Less O2, or something in the way I am wired! I don’t know, but this past week my wife and I were at sea-level while staying in Galveston, Texas. Thus giving me an opportunity for a level, no hill, hike along the shoreline and inland.
   Along the shoreline we encountered mostly Sea Gulls – curious how they stand on one leg.
   From studying the area before we went there allowed me to find Galveston State Park and a series of trails amongst the salt-marsh wetlands about 0.5 miles inland from the shoreline. The state park is a habitat for a variety of land and water animals, but early in the morning there seemed to be more birds than during an afternoon visit.
   Other than the day walking along the shoreline the rest of the days had skies that were mostly overcast with thin clouds giving the sky a whitish bland coloring. All pictures were taken using a Canon T7i DSLR with a 250 mm lens and a variety of lens settings. Pictures have been zoomed in and cropped from their original 6000×4000 size to 1920×1280.
   Salt-marsh wetlands panorama looking toward the southwest


   
   
   

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.

Waning Crescent Moon – Saturn/Jupiter/Mercury Conjunctions

Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, March 9th and 10th, the thin waning crescent Moon wil be passing by the planets Saturn. Jupiter, and the inner planet Mercury. On the 9th the 26-day old waning crescent Moon will be about 3-4o from Saturn and on the 10th the 28-day old Moon will be about 4-5o and about 6-7o from Mercury.


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.

Earthkam Week

   Several times each year a down-looking camera on the International Space Station (ISS) is made available by NASA for making picture requests for the surface of the Earth. The camera is the Sally Ride Earthkam and as the blog title says, this is Sally Ride EarthKam Week. As these pictures, show our planet has a remarkably diverse surface.
   A popular thing to do is choose an orbital path and follow it across a part of the Earth you are interested in. Maybe where you live, a place you have visited or want to visit? Zoom in to see more detail, especially where the orbital path (the red one – for daylight), crosses. If satisfied click on the red line and make your request.
   Participating in the program requires registering so you can receive e-mail notifications of the next Earthkam week. I am registered as a classroom Teacher however any educator may apply. This would be great for Scout groups, or any other group interested in learning more about our planet, not to mention learning about NASA and its missions to Earth as well as off world endeavors.

                        Pictures from March 3-5 2021 Earthkam Week

   
   
   

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.