Another Balanced Moon

   Wednesday morning, February 11th the 22-day old, nearly last quarter, Moon will be 1-2o from Zubenelgenubi, a 5th magnitude star in Libra the Scales.
    Down to the left, or east from the Moon are the stars of Scorpius and Sagittarius. Just above the reddish star Antares, the heart of the scorpion, is the planet Saturn. And just above the eastern horizon is the innermost planet Mercury.
11feb-bino   With an apparent 5th magnitude Zubenelgenubi is just barely visible to the naked-eye. However with binoculars the star is visible, and with the near last quarter Moon ‘next door’ the two will make for an interesting view through binoculars or a wide-field eyepiece in a telescope.

   
   
   
[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.

The Moon Sees Red

Click on link to see it full size.

Click on link to see it full size.

   Monday evening September 29th the waxing crescent Moon will be about 6o from the planet Mars. Mars in turn is about 3o away from its nemesis, so to speak, the reddish star Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion. Why the ‘nemesis’? The name Antares translates into rival or anti Ares, the Greek G-d of war. It is thought that the name for the star was given at a time when the two are like they are now – separated by only a few degrees. It may have been an attempt to differentiate between the two at the times when they are close and their respective colors appear similar.

29sep-bino   Whatever the reason for the name it is always interesting to compare the two objects, both for color comparison, as well as for comparing the their respective apparent magnitudes. Mars currently shines with an apparent magnitude of 0.80, while Antares has an apparent magnitude of 1.03. There are times when the magnitude comparison is in favor of Mars. This would be when Mars is at or near opposition, and Earth is at or near aphelion. How often this happens is a factor of how many years it takes for Mars to return to the same constellation, or in this case, back to being close to Antares. Every 15 years or so Mars and Antares are in the sky together, and give or take several months to two will close in on each other as they are currently.

   
   
   
[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.

Moon Near (Sort of) Antares

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   Wednesday 9 July the nearly full Moon will be about 8o from the reddish star Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion. The reflected moonlight will brighten the sky so much that the Milky Way is not visible leaving only the brightest stars and planets as visible.
   The graphics below illustrate how the sky would look with and without the light from the Moon.
   

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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.

The Magnitude of the Situation

7x50binos   This evening the planet Venus will be within about 2 degrees from the reddish star Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion. This graphic shows the pair as they would appear through 7×50 binoculars. This part of the sky sets shortly after sunset and the sky is still relatively bright so the ‘viewing window’ for observing them is rather small. However Venus is shining very brightly as at -4.27 so even in somewhat bright skies it should not be hard to see. Antares, on the other hand, is a 1st magnitude star so Venus is about 5 magnitudes brighter than Antares. Each magnitude is approximately 2.51 times different so to go from 1st magnitude to the brighter -4.27 represents a magnitude difference of 5 times or 2.51 x 2.51 x 2.51 x 2.51 x 2.51 difference in magnitudes. This means that Venus is 100 times brighter than Antares, or Antares is 100 times dimmer.

   Click here to read about and see additional pictures of the ISS and Iridium flares.

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

Scorpion Misses Moon!

Click on image to see full size.

Click on image to see full size.

   This evening the 6.7 day old waxing crescent Moon will be within a few degrees from the reddish star Antares, the heart of Scorpius the Scorpion. Even though the Moon looks like it is first quarter, and for some depending on the time zone it already is, the Moon is not at first quarter phase for the time zone my writing radiates from until around 1:30 am CDT tomorrow morning. “Just sayin'”

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

In the Scorpion’s Grip – Again

The Many Views of scorpius

The Many Views of Scorpius

   This evening, 18 July, the Moon is once again the claws of Scorpius the Scorpion. However unlike last month, the month before that one, or even the next months coming up the phase, age, and exact location of the Moon are different. This evening the waxing gibbous Moon will be 10.6 days old while in the scorpion’s grasp.
So where will the Moon be next month at about this phase? On 14 August the waxing gibbous Moon will be 7.96 days old and will be to the west of scorpion’s pincers. On 15 August the 9.08 day old Moon will be just east of the Scorpion’s pincers.
   The animated graphic to the right is set for 10 pm CDT, and cycles through an image of the scorpion, a star pattern by H.A. Rey; a zodiacal pattern; just the stars; and then just the stars with the heart of the Scorpion, the reddish star Antares labeled.
(H.A. Rey wrote the Curious George books, and also a book about constellations in which he drew the star patterns differently than the classical patterns – The Stars: A New Way to Know Them.)
Click
here to go to the H.A. Rey web site.
Click here to read what I wrote about the Moon phases and monthly position shift and how it happens in a blog from about ‘this time’ last month.

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

Moon Meets Mars – Then Moves On

October 18 – 7:30 pm CDT

   This evening the waxing crescent Moon will be close to Mars and its stellar counterpart the reddish star Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion. This is more or less the start of another cycle of the Moon staying somewhere around the path of the ecliptic as the Moon orbits the Sun with the Earth. And as it does so the Moon very regularly passes by bright stars and the planets that are also located somewhere around the path of the ecliptic.
   The ecliptic is in reality the Earth’s orbit around the Sun. However since we are on the Earth the ecliptic is viewed as the sun’s apparent path along the ecliptic amongst the background of stars. In the animated image (click on the image above) you will see a series of graphics, one for each day until the end of this month. The first is set for 7:30 pm CDT, and the rest that follow are set at 8:30 pm CDT. By keeping the images set to the same time it is easier to picture the Moon’s real orbital motion to the east. Basically the Moon rises about an hour later each night as a result of that so that at the same time each day the Moon is about 15 degrees further to the east, as well as slightly larger in its waxing phase. The westward motion – rising to setting – is an apparent motion due to the Earth’s rotation.

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

Along the Ecliptic

This evening, Wednesday, the waxing crescent Moon is within three degrees from the planet Mars. Last evening it was near Saturn, and tomorrow the Moon will have moved eastward and will be close to Mars’ stellar counterpart, the reddish star Antares (‘Rival of Mars’). What ties all these together is the ecliptic, the apparent path the Sun follows against the stars in the background.
The ecliptic is actually the Earth’s orbital path around the Sun, and as a result of the Earth’s orbital motion the Sun appears to be moving toward the east, in the opposite direction as the Earth.

Click on the graphic to the right to see it full-size and in motion.