Give Mom a Diamond

   About an hour after local sunset, on Mother’s Day May 12th, go outside and face south and look for the 8-day old waxing gibbous Moon to be near the star Regulus. Then look for the bluish-white colored star Spica.
   Spica, a star in Virgo the Harvest Maiden, marks the lower corner of an *asterism known as ‘the Diamond of Virgo’. To see the asterism look up to the left from Spica for the reddish star Arcturus in the kite-shaped constellation Bootes the Herdsman. Then look nearly straight up, the zenith, for the dimmest of the diamond stars, Cor Caroli in Canes Venatici, the Hunting Dogs. Then look down to the right for the star Denebola, the tail of Leo the Lion.
   Look toward the western horizon for a reddish star, actually the ‘Red Planet’ Mars.

*An asterism is a group of stars forming a recognizable pattern using stars within a constellation or by combining stars from more than one constellation. For example, the Big and Little Dipper are asterisms.

   
   
   

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Moon – Jupiter Conjunction

   Wednesday morning March 27th the 20-day old waning gibbous Moon will be within about 4o from the outer giant ringed planet Jupiter. The Moon and Jupiter are both within about 20o east (left) from the reddish star Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion.
   Further eastward is another outer ringed giant planet, Saturn. This is where the Moon will be in 2 days.
   
   
   

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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Waning Gibbous Moon Passes Spica

   Over the next 2 days, March 21st and 22nd, the waning gibbous Moon will be passing by the blue-white star Spica in the constellation Virgo the Harvest Maiden, coming within 6-7o on the 21st and 10-11o on the 22nd.
   From the mythology about Virgo she is often depicted with a bundle of grasses, like wheat, clutched in her left hand. The star Spica represents that bundle.


   
   
   

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 – Spica Conjunction

   Friday February 22nd the 18-day old waning gibbous Moon will be about 6-7 o from the blue-white star Spica in the constellation of Virgo the Harvest Maiden. Both easily fit within the field of view of binoculars. Both the Moon and Spica rise a few hours before midnight local time and set a couple of hours after sunrise local time.

   
   
   

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Moon Passes Spica

   Shortly after midnight local time on January 26th-27th the 20-21 day old waning gibbous Moon will pass within 10-11o from the blue-white star Spica. This star marks a bundle of wheat in the left hand of Virgo the Harvest Maiden.

   
   
   

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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Venus and Jupiter in Motion

   If the morning skies are clear and the temperature is tolerable go out before sunrise local time and look toward the east. The two brightest stellar objects are the planets Venus (brightest) and Jupiter. A few degrees from Jupiter is the reddish star Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion. Dwarf Planet Ceres is also in this part of the sky but it is too dim to be seen with the unaided eye. As the graphic shows this is also near the Milky Way but seeing that would require much darker skies than many of us live under.

   Both planets are in motion as they orbit the Sun following their respective orbital path. As an inner planet and much closer to the Sun Venus moves more quickly than Jupiter so as days pass Venus will noticeable move more so than Jupiter. Venus was at its western elongation last month and now Venus is in the part of its orbit where it is moving eastward toward the Sun. As Venus moves in that direction Venus will catch up to and then pass Jupiter, coming the closest on January 23rd.
   The animated graphic is set for 1-day intervals from January 15th to January 31st.
   For comparison Venus moves 1.6o each day while Jupiter moves 0.083o each day. The Earth is also in motion and moves about 1.0o each day. So as the Earth moves the sky appears to move toward the west and as this happens Saturn comes into view toward the end of January. The waning crescent Moon shows up also at the end of the month.

   
   
   

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Moon and the Hyades

   Wednesday and Thursday January 16th and the 17th the waning gibbous Moon will be passing past the open star cluster the Hyades and the reddish star Aldebaran. This is a v-shaped group of stars that make up the face of Taurus the Bull. The Hyades is one of two open star clusters in the constellation Taurus. The other is a small dipper-shaped group of stars, the Pleiades, located on the shoulder of Taurus.

   
   
   

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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