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.


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Mercury – Antares Conjunction

   Tuesday morning December 26th the innermost planet, Mercury, will be in a somewhat close conjunction with the heart of the Scorpius the Scorpion, the reddish star Antares. The two will be separated by about 8o and will be a bit too far apart to fit within the field of view of binoculars. Mercury has an apparent magnitude of -0.03 as compared with Antares 1.03 apparent magnitude.

   Looking higher above the horizon toward the south the planets Jupiter and Mars are visible as well as the blue-white star Spica in Virgo the Harvest Maiden. With a line-up of planets and Spica it is easy to visualize the ecliptic, the apparent path the Sun follows eastward throughout the year.
   
   
   

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 Saturn


   Sunday morning, April 16th the 19-day old waning gibbous Moon will rise near the planet Saturn. The two will be within the 7o field of view of 10×50 binoculars and will be easily seen over the eastern to southeastern horizon in the hours before the sun rises.
   
   
   

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.

March Moon at Apogee

 Our Moon reaches apogee, (greatest distance from Earth), on Saturday March 18th. At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 31.72 Earth diameters (404,640 km or 251,432 miles) 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?”

   On the morning of the apogee Moon the 20-day old waning gibbous Moon rises a couple of hours before the Sun and is visible over the southern horizon.

   
   
   

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.

Follow the Moon

   Over the next several days the Moon, as it waxes toward full phase, will follow the ecliptic as it passes by some of its solar system colleagues. Starting on the 15th, a few degrees east from the blue-white star Spica in Virgo the Harvest Maiden, the waxing gibbous Moon will then pass a few degrees from Mars on the 16th and 17th. Then on the 18th the nearly full Moon will be about 3o from Saturn, and that night ending this month’s lunar sweep along the ecliptic and bright planets.
   This animated graphic shows an 'atlas' view of the area along the ecliptic and the the Moon's daily path from June 15th to the 20th. The celestial equator is the curved red line and the ecliptic is the green line.
   There are two distinct motions, and one subtle motion shown in this animation.

    -Planets are in motion with Saturn and Mars on the move with Mars moving toward the west as it retrogrades. On a day to day basis the subtle shift in the position of Saturn and Mars each day is relatively small. Saturn moves 0.033o each day (360o/10,755 Earth days), and Mars each day moves 0.52o (360o/687 Earth days) .
    -The Moon orbits from west to east so each day at the same time the Moon is further to the east, or rises (sets) later.
    -The daily shift in the sky from east to west due to the Earth’s revolution around the Sun. The sky shifts about 1 degree each day or celestial objects, like stars, rise (and set) about 4 minutes earlier each day.

   The graphics below are set for 10 pm CDT on the dates indicated.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

   
   
   

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

Moon Sort of in Conunction with Mars and Saturn

click on graphic to see it full size
   Monday morning April 25th the 18 day old waning gibbous Moon will be within a few degrees from the planet Mars and a few more degrees from the planet Saturn. Not really a true conjunction but the trio will all fit within a 7×50 binocular field of view.

25apr-bino   
   
   
   
   
   The reddish star Antares, the ‘heart’ of Scorpius the Scorpion is 4-5o south from Mars and is just outside the binocular field of view.

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

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

Mars and Saturn – Close But Not For Long


   The planet Mars, having just begun its retrograde motion, will come within about 7o from Saturn this Wednesday April 20th. This is the closest the two planets will be for a while as the separation between the two increases while Mars retrogrades toward the west.

   
   
   

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