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.

Moon ‘Hearts’ the Scorpion

   Sunday and Monday evenings, July 26th and 27th the waxing gibbous Moon will pass the heart of Scorpius the Scorpion, the reddish star Antares. This animated graphic shows the evening sky at 10:30 pm CDT on the 26th and 27th.

   
   
   
   

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.

Planets – Big and Small

   Saturday July 25th the waxing Gibbous Moon, just past first quarter phase, will be within a few degrees from the planet Saturn. During this conjunction the two will rise at around local time, and be visible throughout the length of the night. Down to the left from the Moon and Saturn look for a reddish star. This is Antares, the heart of Scorpius the Scorpion.
   Closer to the Earth the dwarf planet Ceres moves into an orbital position known as opposition. Only Sun orbiting objects beyond the Earth’s orbital distance may be at opposition, with an arrangement of the Sun-Earth-outer orbiting object.
   Ceres rises before midnight local time and would be visible throughout the length of the night. Currently NASA’s Dawn Mission spacecraft is now in orbit around Ceres.

   
   
   
   

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.

Moon Saturn Conjunction

   Sunday evening June 29th the 12.5 day old waxing gibbous Moon is about 2o from the ringed outer planet Saturn. A great view with the naked-eye, binoculars or a telescope eyepiece.

   Meanwhile Venus has moved within about 1o from Jupiter. See some pictures of the planets and our Moon.

   
   
   
   

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.

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

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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.

A Steamed Moon

   Saturday March 14th the waning crescent Moon will be centered within the Milky Way as that part of the sky rises. While in reality the reflected light from the Moon will have brightened the sky too much to allow the Milky Way to be seen nonetheless the Milky Way is still there. And when one pictures the constellation as its teapot-shape asterism suggests then it is not hard to imagine that the Milky Way is the steam rising from the teapot.

[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.