Mooning Uranus

   Sunday August 31st the 17.5-day old waning gibbous Moon will again be near the outer planet Uranus. Throughout this year the Moon and Uranus have had close conjunctions due to Uranus orbiting near the plane of the ecliptic, and the Moon’s inclined orbit bringing it either above, on, or below the ecliptic.

uranus_t-shirt   Look for the waning gibbous Moon to be a few degrees away from Uranus. However with the Moon shining at nearly a -13th magnitude compared with the +5.80 magnitude of Uranus moonlight will definitely brighten the sky too much to allow Uranus to be visible.

   
   
   
   

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 Uranus Together Again

   Wednesday August 5th the 20-day old waning gibbous Moon will again be near the outer planet Uranus. Throughout this year the Moon and Uranus have had close conjunctions due to Uranus orbiting near the plane of the ecliptic, and the Moon’s inclined orbit bringing it either above, on, or below the ecliptic.

   
   
   
   

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.

Uranus at West Quadrature – 2015

orbital-positions   Monday July 13th the position of the planet Uranus, with respect to the Earth and the Sun, places this ringed planet at what is called western quadrature. At that orbital position Uranus, and actually any outer planet, is at a 90 degree angle from the Earth as this graphic shows, and the banner graphic at the top of the page shows. Think third quarter Moon as that is a fair comparison of the relative positions of Earth, Sun, and Uranus.

    At western quadrature Uranus leads the Sun across the sky from east to west as the Earth is rotating, meaning that Uranus rises before the Sun and also sets before the Sun.

   This is a short video clip from a much longer video that I made as part of a live musical performance called “Orbit” at the Gottleib Planetarium in Kansas City Missouri during May 2011.

   
   
   
   

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.

Uranus at Solar Conjunction

   Monday April 6th at 14 UT (9 am CST) the outer planet Uranus will be solar conjunction, a position where Uranus is on the opposite side of the Sun as seen from Earth. All of the planets, as viewed from Earth, will reach solar conjunction at some point during their orbit around the Sun. For the two inner planets, Mercury and Venus, this is known as superior conjunction rather then simply conjunction as it would be for the outer planets.

   
   
   
   
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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.

   
   
   
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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 Near Uranus

28dec-eyepiece   Saturday evening December 28th the 7-day old first quarter Moon is within about 1o from the outer planet Uranus as viewed from my latitude and longitude. However from the right location this will be a lunar occultation of Uranus. That would include parts of Japan, northeastern Russia, Arctic Ocean, northern Canada, and Alaska.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

While Uranus is too dim to be seen with the naked-eye in most light polluted skies you can at least see the first quarter Moon.

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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.

Uranus No Longer Backing Up

   Well that’s a relief!

July 22nd to December 22nd :  Uranus at 30-day intervals

July 22nd to December 22nd : Uranus at 30-day intervals


   Monday December 22nd the outer planet Uranus ends its retrograde motion and resumes its eastward, or direct motion. Uranus begun this current retrograde motion last July 22nd. Retrograde motion is an apparent motion to the west that any outer planet relative to the Earth appears to do whenever the faster moving Earth passes by. Sort of like passing a car on the highway. You know both vehicles are moving in the same direction but from your perspective it could appear that the other car is moving backward as you go by. Regardless, retrograde motion for the outer planets happens at regular intervals as the Earth pass each one. It is always more than a year and always a little further to the east when the retrograde motion begins each time. This is because the outer planet is also moving eastward.

   
   
   
[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.