Taurus Takes It On The Chin!


   Friday evening March 31st the 4-day old waxing crescent Moon will be about 4o from the reddish star Aldebaran in the open star cluster The Hyades. This open star cluster has a noticeable v-shape and from mythology the v-shape is the face of Taurus the Bull. Over the course of several hours as the Moon continues moving eastward along its orbit the Moon will pass across the v-shape and will be less than one-half degree from Aldebaran.
   
   
   
click on animated graphic to see it larger
   From my longitude this part of the sky will have set but observers in parts of north Africa, India, and that part of the world may be able to see an occultation of Aldebaran by the Moon. This animated graphic shows the Moon’s motion from 9 pm CDT 31 March to 5 am CDT 1 April (2 UT 1 April to 9 UT 1 April).
   
   
   
   
   

   The point of the v-shape is the bull’s nose while the two stars at the open end, Aldebaran and Epsilon Taurus mark the bull’s eyes. To the right, west, from the Moon is another open star cluster The Pleiades.

   
   
   

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 Passes Neptune

nov8-9-ani
   Tuesday and Wednesday evenings November 8th and 9th the just past first quarter Moon, the waxing gibbous Moon, will pass by the outermost of the 8 planets, Neptune. Depending on your location and the time for the event (14 UT November 9th or 8 am CST) the two may be as close as less than 1o.

   
   
   

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.

Aldebaran Occultation Redux

before-after
   Here is a before/after from my timelapse sequence. I screwed up thinking Aldebaran was occulted so I decided to skip the part when it’s behind the Moon and resume just before it emerges on the other side of the Moon. I quit too soon and when I switched the camera back on and started another timelapse the occultation was over!
Picture on left is the last in the timelapse sequence – on the right is the first one in the second sequence.
   F10; 1 sec.; ISO 200; 50mm

   Last night was an ISS flyover at a decent time so I set up in the backyard for a timelapse sequence. During that time a large jet heading to MCI flew past with its landing lights on. Then a smaller plane flew past on a nearly parallel path to the larger plane. Then the ISS flew past taking a path across the Big Dipper and passed just under Polaris on the far right of the picture.
   110 pictures at 2 sec.; 18 mm; ISO 1600; F4
Video looks best with HD selected.

   
   
   

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 Eyes Taurus

moon=in-eye
   Sunday evening April 10th the 3.5-day young waxing crescent Moon will be either very close to the reddish-orange star Aldebaran, the ‘eye of the Bull’, or the Moon will be occulting Aldebaran. This is sort of like a total solar eclipse in that if you are not at the right viewing location then you will not see a total solar eclipse, just a partial. So depending on your location (latitude and longitude) you may be where you will be able to see the Moon occult Aldebaran. On the other hand the Moon will occult several other stars in the Hyadeas, the open star cluster that makes up the v-shaped face of the bull.

   To learn more about when to view occultations, eclipses, and transits download the Freeware program Occult 4.
   For maps of lunar occultations go to the Grazing Occultation Events in North America web site.

   
   
   
   

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.

A Missing Star!

   Saturday morning September 5th there will be a star missing from a familiar formation of stars as they rise in the east. Those familiar with the constellation Taurus the Bull know that the face of the bull is depicted by the stars of the Hyades, a ‘V-shaped’ open star cluster. At the lower end of the ‘V’ is the bright reddish star Aldebaran, marking the angry eye of the bull. aldebaran-aniHowever on this particular morning, at least for a while, Aldebaran will be missing.
   So what is happening? The last quarter Moon will occult, pass in front of’, the reddish star Aldebaran in the constellation Taurus the Bull. Most of the duration of the occultation event will be visible from parts of Europe and the eastern coast of North America. A timetable of beginning and ending times and showing cities where the occultation will be visible from may be found at the IOTA (International Occultation Timing Association) web site.
click on animation to see it larger    Viewing the event will obviously depend on your local weather, however your longitude and latitude will determine what if any of the event you will see. For example at my longitude of 94oW the last quarter Moon does not rise until midnight CDT and at that time the occultation will already be in progress.

   
   
   

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.

A Celestial 3fer!

   Saturday February 21st is one of those days (actually nights) when things come together nicely and we have an evening where there will be a trio of celestial events two of which many people will hopefully notice. The very bright Venus will be very close to the much dimmer planet Mars over the western horizon at the time of your local sunset. Up to the left is the waxing crescent Moon and less than 1o from the Moon is the outer planet Uranus.

uranus-occultation   For parts of the world this will be an occultation of Uranus by the Moon. From the U.S.A. the occultation occurs during the late afternoon and so the sky may be too bright to see the occultation. And unfortunately Uranus is at the threshold of what is bright enough to be seen with the naked eye, so Uranus is too dim to be visible without the use of binoculars or telescope.

   Both of these conjunctions should be an interesting sight through binoculars or a telescope eyepiece. In particular the conjunction between Venus and Mars is one that spans several days, with the closest happening on Sunday the 22nd. You can see the two move relative to each other over the course of a few days, as this animated graphic shows. It is set to one frame per day and starts from the 19th and ends on the 25th. This animated graphic also gives an idea of how the two planets, Venus and Mars, would look through binoculars and an 8″ reflecting telescope with a 25 mm eyepiece. With the greater telescope eyepiece magnification Uranus and some of its moons become visible, as will possibly be a gibbous phase shape for Venus, and maybe a snow covered Martian pole.

   The 3rd of the 3fer
feb21-descending-node   Saturday February 21st at 16:06 UT (12:06 pm CST) our 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.

   
   
   
[centup]
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.

A Well-Balanced Moon Near Saturn

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   Sunday evening 3 August look for the first quarter Moon to be within a few degrees from the planet Saturn. The Moon is just above the balance or pivot-point of the Scales (Libra) with the two stars marking the pans, Zubenelgenubi and Zubeneschamali nearby. Saturn with a 0.75 magnitude is between 2o – 3o from the Moon, while Zubenelgenubi with a 2.75 magnitude lies about 1o – 2o from the Moon. About 10o from the first quarter Moon is Zubeneschamali with a magnitude of 2.6.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   From my viewing location and many others around the world the Moon will be within a few degrees from Saturn on Sunday evening as the above graphic shows. And as both the Earth rotates and the Moon moves along its orbit, the two, from my viewing location, will stay within a few degrees from each other throughout the rest of the evening and night hours. They will have risen and set together.

saturn-moon-ani   How close they appear is a determined by latitude and longitude, so for some the two will appear closer then they appear for me. And if you are observing from the right location this will be an occultation of Saturn by the Moon as the Moon passes between Saturn and the Earth. That occultation, at around 11 UT on the 4th, will be visible from parts of southern India to Australia and some of the South Pacific islands.

   
   
   
[centup]
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.

Moon-Mars Close Conjunction

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   Saturday evening the just slightly past first-quarter Moon will come between Mars and Spica offering a great astro-photo opportunity. From certain parts of the world including the western coast of Central America west toward Hawaii observers will see the Moon occult, pass between us and the planet Mars sort of like an eclipse. The time for this is around 1 UT, which puts this event in the evening on 5 July for my time zone of Central Daylight (UT-5). From my latitude (38° 55.26′ N) and longitude (94° 20.922′ W) this will be a close conjunction as the Moon will be about 0.5o from Mars, and about 2.5o from Spica.
july5-bino   As this graphic shows it will be a great sight through binoculars. I included how the Moon and Mars would look/compare when viewed through my ancient 8″ Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope with a 25mm eyepiece.

   
   
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.

Saturn Occultation

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   During the course of the day on Tuesday 10 June the waxing gibbous Moon, as it moves eastward along its orbital path, will pass by the planet Saturn. The two will be their closest at 19 UT (2 pm CDT), which for my time zone and latitude is during the daylight hours as well as before the Moon rises. However as the two rise the Moon will be within a few degrees to the east from the planet Saturn making for a striking pair as this graphic is showing.

   saturn-occultationViewing this lunar-planet conjunction from other latitude locations will show the gap between the two to range from as it does from my latitude to no gap at all. The latter would be at latitudes where the viewing angle is such that the Moon occults, or passes in front of Saturn, which relative to the Moon is in the background. From the latitude of Queenstown South Africa (31o 54′ S : 26o 53′ E) observers will be able to see the Moon occult Saturn as this animated graphic is showing.

   
   
   
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.

Moon – Venus Occultation

1 Hour With the Moon

1 Hour With the Moon

   Observers in Western Africa, parts of India, and Southeast Asia, will see the 25 day old waning crescent Moon occult the planet Venus as the two rise in the east. The occultation begins at approximately 4:30 UT on Wednesday 26 February when Venus disappears behind the Moon, and ending with the reappearance of Venus about an hour later. An occultation of a planet by the Moon happens when the Moon passes between our line of sight of a planet and that planet – sort of like a lunar eclipse. However unlike a lunar eclipse the occultation is only visible from a narrow area across the Earth much like the shadow path for a total solar eclipse. If you are not in the occultation path then you will only see the Moon in conjunction (close) to the planet. This animated graphic is set to 1-minute intervals and shows the occultation from 4:30 UT to 5:30 UT.
Venus and the Moon

Venus and the Moon. 6am CST 25-26 February

   At the time of the occultation in my timezone of USA Central Time (CST) the Moon and Venus occultation is at 11 pm CST which means that for my location as well as much of the rest of the world will only see a Moon Venus conjunction. This animated graphic shows the morning skies at 6 am CST on both the the 25th and 26th of February. During that two day time period the Moon is conjunction with Venus both mornings.
   
   
   
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.