Moon on the Move

   Over the next few evenings, Saturday December 14th, Sunday the 15th, and Monday the 16th the waning gibbous Moon will orbit eastward starting from about 7-8o south of Pollux to passing about 6-8o from M-44, the ‘Beehive Cluster’, an open star cluster in the constellation Cancer the Crab. By Monday the 16th the waning gibbous Moon will be about 2o from the heart of Leo the Lion, the star Regulus.
   During a 24-hour rotation of the Earth the Moon will have moved approximately 15o eastward. In terms of Moon position that 15o is equal to one hour — (divide 360o by 24 hours = 15o). What this has to do with the Moon’s position is that each day or night the Moon rises about 1 hour earlier. These 3 graphics show the effect of this in that it will be about 1 hour later for the Moon to be more or less in the same spot in the sky relative to the horizon.

   
   
   

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December Moon at Ascending Node

   Friday December 13th the 17.5-day old waning gibbous Moon rises between the legs of the Gemini Twins. The Moon will be about 10-11o to the west from the ‘Twin’ Stars Pollux and Gemini. As it is rising the Moon will be crossing the plane of the ecliptic moving north. 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.

   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)

   

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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Heads Toward the Moon

   Early Monday morning October 21st the last Quarter Moon will be high over the southeastern horizon and more or less lined up with the ‘Twin Stars’ of Gemini, Pollux and Castor. The Moon will be about 4-5o from Pollux and about 9-10o from Castor.

   
   
   

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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First Quarter Moon Near Pollux

   Friday April 12th the first quarter Moon will be within 6-7o from the star Pollux in the constellation of the Gemini Twins and will more or less fit within the field of view of 7X50 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.


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Venus and the Twins


   Over the next few evenings, June 7th to 10th, the inner planet Venus will pass the star Pollux, marking the head of one of the Gemini Twins. Pollux is on the left side as we view the ‘Twins’ face-on. This animated graphic is set for 10 pm CDT and shows the daily movement of Venus toward the east, combined with the daily motion of the stars toward the west as the Earth revolves around the Sun.


   The separation between Venus and Pollux will vary from about 4.5o to about 5.5o allowing at least these two to fit within a binocular field of 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.

Pollux Kicks it Back!


   Over the next couple of nights the 15 to 16 day old waning gibbous Moon will move past Pollux and Castor, the twin stars of Gemini, and Procyon the alpha star in Canis Minor, the Little Dog. With a little imagination or the animated graphic it’s not hard to picture Pollux kicking the Moon. Ok a lot of imagination, or the animated graphic!
Animated graphic shows the sky for December 15th and 16th a couple of hours after 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.

Moon Near a Beehive


   Very early Sunday morning October 23rd the 22-day old last quarter Moon will be a few degrees from the open star cluster M-44, or commonly known as the ‘Beehive Cluster‘. This should make for an interesting sight with binoculars despite the reflected light from the Moon.

   If you are not a late night observer but like me an early morning observer then the Moon will still be close to M-44 before sunrise. However at that time look south-southeast and high above the horizon. To the right is Procyon in Canis Minor and above the Moon are the ‘Twins’ Pollux and Castor.

   
   
   

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.