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.
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.
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.
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?”
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.
Saturday September 7th the 8-day old waxing gibbous Moon will be about 4-5o west from the outer ringed planet Saturn. Just for reference but too dim to be seen is the Dwarf Planet Pluto – located about 6-7o east from Saturn. Then the following night, September 8th ,the Moon will have moved to the east side of 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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Thursday evening September 5th the 6.6-day old first quarter Moon will be about midway between the outer ‘giant’ ringed planet Jupiter, and Ceres, as well as near the reddish Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion. This interesting grouping will not quite fit within a 7o binocular field of view but nonetheless will be a striking grouping. And for the record, Ceres is the closest dwarf planet to Earth.