October Moon at Ascending Node

   Saturday October 14th the waning crescent Moon will be crossing the plane of the ecliptic moving north relative to the ecliptic. This is known as the ascending node, one of two intersections the Moon’s orbital path has with the ecliptic. The ecliptic is actually the Earth’s orbit and the Moon’s orbit is inclined about 6o from the ecliptic. So there are two node intersections, the ascending and descending nodes.

   On October 14th the thin 24-day old waning crescent Moon will be just crossing into the boundaries of the constellation Leo the Lion. The Moon will be located about 12o from the heart of the Lion, the star Regulus. Rising above the eastern horizon is the ‘Red Planet’ Mars, and nearby the inner planet Venus.
   These two planets are close enough for both to be seen in the field of view of binoculars. Within that same field of view is the 3rd magnitude star Zavijava in the constellation Cancer the Crab, contrasting interestingly with Venus at -4th, and Mars at 2nd magnitudes.

   Does our Moon actually go around the Earth as many graphics show? 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?”

   
   
   

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.

October Moon at Perigee


   Our Moon reaches perigee, (closest distance from Earth), for this orbit on Monday October 9th. At that time the Moon will be at a distance of 28.76 Earth diameters (366,855 km or 227,953 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 perigee Moon the 20-day old waning gibbous Moon is above the east to southeastern horizon around midnight local time.

   *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.

Mercury at Superior Conjunction

mercury at superior conjunction
   Sunday October 8th the innermost planet Mercury reaches superior conjunction – on the opposite side of the Sun from the Earth. For those that are curious, Mercury at superior conjunction is approximately 1.408 AU (130,881,776 miles; 210,633,801 km) from the Earth – the combined distance of the Earth to Sun distance plus the radius of Mercury’s orbit.
   Mercury is not visible while in conjunction with the Sun but within the next week or so Mercury will reappear on the east side of the Sun and start becoming visible over the western horizon at sunset.

   
   
   

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.

Venus – Mars Conjunction


   Thursday morning October 5th the inner planet Venus will be within about 0.5o from the planet Mars. With either a telescope or through binoculars the two planets will make for a great view.

   
   
   

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.

October Moon at Descending Node

   Monday October 2nd the waxing gibbous 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 13-day old waxing gibbous Moon will be over the east-southeast horizon an hour or so after sunset local time. The Moon will be about 10o from the outermost, and 8th, planet Neptune.
   
   
   
   

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.

September Moon at Apogee

   Our Moon reaches apogee, (greatest distance from Earth), on Wednesday September 27th. At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 31.70 Earth diameters (404,308 km or 251,225 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 7.5-day old first quarter Moon rises at mid-day and is about 10o to the east from Saturn and is just above M-8, the Lagoon Nebula. Unfortunately the reflected light from the Moon will brighten the sky enough to make seeing the Milky Way all but impossible. However with binoculars or a telescope M-8 may be seen – but not as well as when the Moon’s light is not interfering.

*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-Saturn Conjunction

   Tuesday evening September 26th the 6.5-day old waxing crescent Moon will be within about 2o from the planet Saturn.
   The two will make for an interesting view with binoculars but unfortunately the reflected light from the near first-quarter Moon will brighten the sky enough so that the glow from the Milky Way, just to the east, will be hard if not impossible to see.

   
   
   

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.