Along the Ecliptic

   Every once in a while the planets arrange themselves along the horizon and when that happens visualizing the ecliptic is somewhat obvious. For the next week or so all of the naked-eye visible planets except Mars, plus Neptune and Dwarf Planet Ceres, will be above the horizon at sunset local time. If you wait about an hour the Moon and the planet Uranus will rise above the eastern horizon as Mercury and Venus have set in the west.
   The ecliptic is actually the Earth’s orbit and it is used as a reference ‘line’, properly known as the plane of the ecliptic, for all of the Sun orbiting objects. Since few if any Sun orbiting objects have orbits that are on the same plane as the Earth but rather these objects are tilted or inclined either above or below the plane of the ecliptic. This is know as inclination. (Table Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orbital_inclination)

   
   
   

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October Moon near Saturn, at Descending Node, and It’s International Observe the Moon Night


   Saturday October 5th 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 7-day old first quarter Moon will be over the southwestern horizon and will be about 1-2o to the east from the ringed planet Saturn. Jupiter shines brightly further to the west near the reddish star Antares. With binoculars or telescope the dwarf planet Ceres may be visible.

   Saturday evening is also International Observe the Moon Night. There may be a telescope set up in your area for observing the Moon, Saturn, and Jupiter. Depending on local weather of course!

   
   
   
   
   

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 in Close Conjunction with Jupiter

   Wednesday evening October 3rd the 5-day old waxing crescent Moon will be about 1-2o from -2 magnitude Jupiter. Should make for a great view using binoculars. Keep an eye on the Moon over the next few days as it continues moving eastward and waxing toward first quarter phase and the planet Saturn.

   
   
   

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 Gets Clawed

   Tuesday evening October 2nd the 4-day old waxing crescent Moon will be in the claws of Scorpius the Scorpion, and about 6-7o from the heart of Scorpius, the reddish star Antares. The Moon will be about 8o from 8th magnitude Dwarf Planet Ceres, and about 11-12o from -2 magnitude Jupiter.

   
   
   

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 Conjunction with Mercury and Venus

   Sunday evening September 29th the very thin 1.5-day young waxing crescent Moon will be over the western horizon near the two inner planets Venus and Mercury, and nearby reddish star Antares.

   
   
   

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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September Apogee Moon

   Our Moon reaches apogee, (greatest distance from Earth), for this orbit, on Friday August 13th. At that time the Moon will be at a distance of 31.85 Earth diameters 252,511 miles (406,378 km) from the Earth.

   On the day of the apogee Moon the 14-day old full Moon rises around sunset local time and is above the horizon the remainder of the night hours, setting at around sunrise the following morning.

   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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Neptune at 2019 Opposition

   Tuesday September 10th the outer planet Neptune reaches a position in its orbit around the Sun when it is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun. This coincidentally is known as opposition, and it is an orbital position which only the planets further from the Sun than the Earth may reach.
   At opposition an object orbiting the Sun beyond Earth’s orbit rises and sets in a fashion similar to our Moon when it is at full phase, in that the object at opposition rises at sunset and sets at sunrise.
   Neptune is over the eastern horizon after sunset local time and with an apparent magnitude of 7.81 is beyond unaided-eye visibility but could be visible with large aperture telescopes or with a camera.

   
   
   

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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