Waning Crescent Moon – Venus Conjunction

   Wednesday and Thursday mornings, May 1st and 2nd the 26 to 27-day old thin waning crescent Moon will pass by the inner planet Venus coming the closest on the 27th when the two will be separated by about 3-4o. A day later, Friday, the very thin waning crescent Moon will be near Mercury and the outer planet Uranus, but the Sun will be less than 45 minutes behind them – meaning the sky may be too bright to see the Moon or Mercury.
   Further to the west the outer planets Saturn and Jupiter are visible in the area around Sagittarius and Scorpius. Even a bit further west is the closest Dwarf Planet to the Earth, former asteroid Ceres.


   
   
   

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.


Also Follow me and other great resources at Feedspot.

Our Moon Near Dwarf Planet Pluto


   Wednesday morning May 25th the 18.5-day old waning gibbous Moon will be about 3o from Dwarf Planet Pluto. Given that the Moon has an apparent magnitude of -18.5 not much else will be visible in the surrounding area of the sky, despite what my graphic shows.

   However a 2nd magnitude star, Albaldah (in Sagittarius), is about 0.5o from Pluto. If you can see that star then you are in effect looking at Pluto also, as this simulated 25mm eyepiece view is showing.

   
   
   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

The Sun, Here not There

view-from-earth-not-in-aquarius   Wednesday January 20th the Sun, in its apparent eastward motion along the ecliptic, moves out of the constellation Sagittarius the Archer and into the constellation of Capricorn the Sea Goat. This is the true or actual position of the Sun as opposed to the pseudoscience of astrology which usually has the astrological Sun one constellation ahead or east from the Astronomical Sun’s position.
   A few hours after the Sun crosses into Capricorn, and according to the pseudoscience of astrology, the Sun enters the constellation of Aquarius the Water Bearer. When in fact, as written above, the actual position of the Sun is still within the boundary of the constellation of Capricorn the Sea Goat.
   
   
   

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.

Sun Not in Capricornus but it is the December Solstice

sag-cap-ani   According to the pseudoscience of astrology the Sun enters the constellation of Capricornus the Sea Goat on Tuesday December 22nd at 4:48 UT (Monday 21 December – 10:48 pm CST, when in fact the actual position of the Sun is still within the boundaries of the constellation of Sagittarius the Archer.
In reality the Sun will have reached the celestial coordinates of 23.5o degrees south declination; 18 hours right ascension. With regard to the Earth’s surface this places the Sun over the Tropic of Capricorn, which is at 23.5o south latitude. We also know that it is the Earth’s tilt on its axis that is the cause for seasons on Earth rather than the distance between the Earth and the Sun. And of course we know that this signals the start of northern hemisphere winter and the southern hemisphere summer seasons.
And for those ‘insanely curious’ like me, while the Sun is at 23.5o South declination and ‘in’ Sagittarius the Earth is opposite at 23.5o North declination and at the feet of the Gemini Twins.

The animated graphic below sets the stage, so to speak, to illustrate the Sun’s actual location with respect to the zodiac constellations in the background. This is as opposed to the location of the Sun according to the pseudoscience of Astrology. The scene is set for 12:15 CST, or mid-day when the Sun is at an azimuth of 180o, or south, and is mid-way between rising and setting. The actual time of the December solstice was 22 December at 4:48 UT, or for my time zone (UT-6) it was 21 December at 10:48 om CST.
So, starting with the Sun at mid-day the scene changes as first the daytime sky is turned off, followed by the horizon being turned off. This leaves a sky view like during a total solar eclipse except that the Sun is not blocked out by the new Moon. And like during that solar eclipse the zodiac constellations in the background become visible. Then the following are added starting first with Sagittarius, then Capricorn, and then the ecliptic and celestial equator are added to show the relationship between the two constellations and what makes them plus another 11 constellations the astronomical zodiac of 13 constellations. The animation ends with the addition of the constellation boundary lines and labels for the rest of the constellations in this setting.
It is the ecliptic, the apparent path of the Sun which, if it crosses the boundary of a constellation, makes that constellation one of the zodiac. And during December the Sun’s apparent path takes it across the constellation of Sagittarius rather than Capricorn.

Read a little more about how astrology has the Sun incorrectly placed in a previous blog, and in another blog discussing the effects of precession.

 

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.

Sun Enters Sagittarius

16dec-view-from-earth   Friday December 18th the Sun in its apparent eastward motion along the ecliptic, moves out of the constellation Scorpius the Scorpion and into the constellation of Sagittarius the Archer. This is the true or actual position of the Sun as opposed to the pseudoscience of astrology which usually has the astrological Sun one constellation ahead or east from the Astronomical Sun’s position.

   Read a little more about how astrology has the Sun incorrectly placed in a previous blog, and in another blog discussing the effects of precession.
   
   
   

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.

Pluto at Opposition

orbital-positions   Monday July 6th at 10 UT (5 am CDT) the Dwarf Planet Pluto will be at opposition. All outer planets and other solar system objects that orbit the Sun beyond the orbit of the Earth have opposition. At that orbital position the Earth is between the Sun and the outer solar system object, much like the Sun-Earth-Moon arrangement for a full Moon. At opposition the outer solar system object rises at the local time for sunset and sets at the local time for sunrise – again just like the full Moon.

   Where is Pluto and is Pluto visible to the naked eye? Pluto currently is above the teapot-shaped asterism for Sagittarius the Archer. It is located near a 3rd magnitude star, Xi2 Sagittarii, however Pluto has an apparent magnitude of 14.0 making it too dim to be seen in other than a large telescope or with time exposure images.

Click here to learn more about the New Horizons mission and take part in the mission with some of the interactives created by NASA.

   
   
   
   

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.

Possible Nova in Sagittarius

   A possible nova (not yet to be confirmed) was discovered by Astronomer John Seach, Chatsworth Island, NSW, Australia, on March 15th and reported to the IAU. See link below.
   The possible Nova is easily located within the teapot shaped asterism of Sagittarius as these pictures show.
http://www.cbat.eps.harvard.edu/unconf/followups/J18365700-2855420.html


   Pictures were taken this morning at around 5 am CST from a location along 50 Highway west from where I live in Lee’s Summit Missouri. These are cropped from the original which was taken with the following settings. 18 mm lens; 6-seconds; f3.5; ISO 1600.
   The nova is currently at around 5th magnitude meaning that it could be seen with the naked eye in dark enough skies. I added apparent magnitudes for 4 stars near the Nova’s location.
   From my picture location the sky was still too bright but I was pretty sure I saw the nova using 10×50 binoculars.

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

[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.