Waxing Crescent Moon – Mercury Conjunction

click on graphic to see it larger   Tuesday evening June 4th the thin 1.5-day old waxing crescent Moon will be over the north western horizon around sunset local time, and will be about 4-5o from the innermost planet Mercury. The planet Mars is also visible and is about 8-9o east (above to the left) from the Moon.

   
   
   

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Waning Crescent Moon – Venus Conjunction

   Saturday morning June 1st watch for a very thin 27.5-day old waning crescent Moon to rise with the inner plane Venus. The Moon will be about 5o from Venus, and despite the Moon’s thin appearance its apparent magnitude of -9.0 will still outshine Venus apparent magnitude of -3.80. Nonetheless both should make a striking pair over the horizon before sunrise local time.

   
   
   

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.


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Moon – Uranus Conjunction

   Friday May 31st the 26.5-day old waning crescent Moon will be within about 4o from the outer ringed planet Uranus. Both rise around 1 hour before sunrise local time. The waning crescent Moon and Uranus will easily fit within the field of view of binoculars.
   However with two distinctly different apparent magnitudes (Moon -10.0 and Uranus 6.80) seeing Uranus will be a challenge compared to the much brighter Moon. Even more dimmer is the dwarf planet Ceres (apparent magnitude 18.67) located about 11o west from the crescent 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.


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Dwarf Planet Ceres at Opposition

   Tuesday May 28th Dwarf Planet Ceres reaches solar opposition – on the opposite side of the Sun as (not) seen from Earth.
   Dwarf Planet Ceres, formerly classified as an asteroid, is the largest member of the inner asteroid belt. Read and learn more about the closest Dwarf Planet to Earth.
   
   
   
   
   

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.


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Moon at Apogee

   Our Moon reaches apogee, (greatest distance from Earth), for this orbit, on Sunday May 26th. At that time the Moon will be at a distance of 31.68 Earth diameters 251,117 miles (404,134 km) from the Earth.

   The 22-day old last quarter Moon rises after midnight local time and sets later that same day.

   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 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.


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May Moon at Descending Node

   Wednesday May 22nd the 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 17.5-day old waning gibbous Moon will be 5-7o to the west from the ringed planet Saturn. The following day, May 23rd, the 18.5-day old waning gibbous Moon will have orbited to the east side of Saturn passing within 5-6o.


   
   
   
   
   

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.


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Mercury at Superior Conjunction

orbital-positions   Tuesday May 21st the innermost planet Mercury reaches superior conjunction. At superior conjunction Mercury will be on the opposite side of the Sun. The graphic to the right shows the planet positions relative to the Earth and Sun for both inner planets and outer planets.

   While at this superior conjunction Mercury will not be directly in line with the Earth and the Sun – on the ecliptic. Mercury has an orbital inclination of 7o with respect to the ecliptic. So like our Moon, Mercury during each complete orbit, will cross the plane of the ecliptic moving north (ascending node) and also moving south (descending node). For this superior conjunction Mercury had just crossed the ecliptic moving north.
   

   
   
   

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.


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