Mars 2020 Retrograde Loop

Mars Retrograde Loop
   About every 26 months, 780 days, the planet Mars appears to pause in its eastward orbital motion and for a period of time, about 72 days, move toward the west before again pausing and returning to its eastward orbital motion. This is known as retrograde motion, and is an apparent, not actual, motion that all planets beyond the Earth’s orbit undergo relative to the Earth’s orbital motion. All outer planets, dwarf planets, and asteroids will have a retrograde motion period each time the Earth moves past them. Picture two race cars circling a track. The innermost car, moving faster, passes the outer car and from the perspective of the inner car it could look like the slower moving car was moving backward.

   This year the planet Mars appears to pause in its orbit on September 9th within the constellation of Pisces the Fishes and then begins moving westward or in retrograde across the constellation of Pisces the Fishes. By Mid-November Mars will have returned to its eastward, or prograde, orbital motion.
   
      You could plot the retrograde motion of Mars on this equatorial star chart. It is part of a set of free star charts made available from the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Stephen F. Austin State University.

   The data tables below show position information about Mars. The first two columns are what will be used for plotting the changing position of Mars. R.A. is the Right Ascension or hour circle position of Mars and is in units of hours and minutes. This is similar to meridians of longitude on Earth except they are numbered from 0 to 23 and there is only east. Dec is the Declination of Mars and is degrees and minutes. Declination is like latitude with degrees north and south from the celestial equator.
    Distance is between the Earth and Mars and is shown using AU or Astronomical Units (93,000,000 miles 149,668,992 km). Ang. Diam is the apparent size, or angular diameter, the planet appears and is measured in units of degrees, minutes, and seconds. Scroll down the data to October 6th where you will see when Mars is closest to the Earth as evidenced by having the smallest distance of 0.4149202 AU.

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Coordinate Positions for Mars


 September 2020
Day|       RA        |       Decl      |     Distance    |  Ang Diam  | VMag
 1 |   01h 48m 41.4s |   +6° 38' 48.9" |    0.4941852 AU |  00' 18.9" | -1.8
 2 |   01h 49m 07.4s |   +6° 41' 08.2" |    0.4902798 AU |  00' 19.1" | -1.8
 3 |   01h 49m 30.3s |   +6° 43' 13.7" |    0.4864417 AU |  00' 19.2" | -1.9
 4 |   01h 49m 49.9s |   +6° 45' 05.2" |    0.4826728 AU |  00' 19.4" | -1.9
 5 |   01h 50m 06.3s |   +6° 46' 42.6" |    0.4789754 AU |  00' 19.5" | -1.9
 6 |   01h 50m 19.4s |   +6° 48' 06.0" |    0.4753516 AU |  00' 19.7" | -1.9
 7 |   01h 50m 29.2s |   +6° 49' 15.3" |    0.4718040 AU |  00' 19.8" | -2.0
 8 |   01h 50m 35.6s |   +6° 50' 10.4" |    0.4683349 AU |  00' 20.0" | -2.0
 9 |   01h 50m 38.7s |   +6° 50' 51.5" |    0.4649470 AU |  00' 20.1" | -2.0
10 |   01h 50m 38.3s |   +6° 51' 18.5" |    0.4616430 AU |  00' 20.3" | -2.0
11 |   01h 50m 34.5s |   +6° 51' 31.4" |    0.4584258 AU |  00' 20.4" | -2.1
12 |   01h 50m 27.2s |   +6° 51' 30.4" |    0.4552982 AU |  00' 20.6" | -2.1
13 |   01h 50m 16.4s |   +6° 51' 15.4" |    0.4522635 AU |  00' 20.7" | -2.1
14 |   01h 50m 02.2s |   +6° 50' 46.7" |    0.4493246 AU |  00' 20.8" | -2.1
15 |   01h 49m 44.5s |   +6° 50' 04.4" |    0.4464849 AU |  00' 21.0" | -2.2
16 |   01h 49m 23.3s |   +6° 49' 08.6" |    0.4437477 AU |  00' 21.1" | -2.2
17 |   01h 48m 58.8s |   +6° 47' 59.8" |    0.4411163 AU |  00' 21.2" | -2.2
18 |   01h 48m 30.8s |   +6° 46' 38.1" |    0.4385939 AU |  00' 21.3" | -2.2
19 |   01h 47m 59.5s |   +6° 45' 04.0" |    0.4361836 AU |  00' 21.5" | -2.2
20 |   01h 47m 25.0s |   +6° 43' 17.9" |    0.4338886 AU |  00' 21.6" | -2.3
21 |   01h 46m 47.2s |   +6° 41' 20.3" |    0.4317117 AU |  00' 21.7" | -2.3
22 |   01h 46m 06.4s |   +6° 39' 11.6" |    0.4296557 AU |  00' 21.8" | -2.3
23 |   01h 45m 22.5s |   +6° 36' 52.3" |    0.4277231 AU |  00' 21.9" | -2.3
24 |   01h 44m 35.7s |   +6° 34' 23.0" |    0.4259166 AU |  00' 22.0" | -2.4
25 |   01h 43m 46.0s |   +6° 31' 44.2" |    0.4242385 AU |  00' 22.1" | -2.4
26 |   01h 42m 53.5s |   +6° 28' 56.4" |    0.4226913 AU |  00' 22.1" | -2.4
27 |   01h 41m 58.5s |   +6° 26' 00.2" |    0.4212774 AU |  00' 22.2" | -2.4
28 |   01h 41m 00.9s |   +6° 22' 56.1" |    0.4199990 AU |  00' 22.3" | -2.4
29 |   01h 40m 00.9s |   +6° 19' 44.7" |    0.4188585 AU |  00' 22.3" | -2.5
30 |   01h 38m 58.6s |   +6° 16' 26.7" |    0.4178582 AU |  00' 22.4" | -2.5

Ocober 2020
Day|       RA        |       Decl      |     Distance    |  Ang Diam  | VMag
 1 |   01h 37m 54.2s |   +6° 13' 02.7" |    0.4170002 AU |  00' 22.4" | -2.5
 2 |   01h 36m 47.7s |   +6° 09' 33.5" |    0.4162868 AU |  00' 22.5" | -2.5
 3 |   01h 35m 39.5s |   +6° 05' 59.6" |    0.4157201 AU |  00' 22.5" | -2.5
 4 |   01h 34m 29.5s |   +6° 02' 21.8" |    0.4153021 AU |  00' 22.5" | -2.5
 5 |   01h 33m 18.1s |   +5° 58' 40.9" |    0.4150348 AU |  00' 22.6" | -2.6
 6 |   01h 32m 05.3s |   +5° 54' 57.7" |    0.4149202 AU |  00' 22.6" | -2.6
 7 |   01h 30m 51.3s |   +5° 51' 12.8" |    0.4149601 AU |  00' 22.6" | -2.6
 8 |   01h 29m 36.3s |   +5° 47' 27.2" |    0.4151563 AU |  00' 22.5" | -2.6
 9 |   01h 28m 20.4s |   +5° 43' 41.5" |    0.4155103 AU |  00' 22.5" | -2.6
10 |   01h 27m 04.0s |   +5° 39' 56.8" |    0.4160237 AU |  00' 22.5" | -2.6
11 |   01h 25m 47.1s |   +5° 36' 13.8" |    0.4166979 AU |  00' 22.5" | -2.6
12 |   01h 24m 30.0s |   +5° 32' 33.4" |    0.4175340 AU |  00' 22.4" | -2.6
13 |   01h 23m 12.8s |   +5° 28' 56.4" |    0.4185333 AU |  00' 22.4" | -2.6
14 |   01h 21m 55.8s |   +5° 25' 23.8" |    0.4196965 AU |  00' 22.3" | -2.6
15 |   01h 20m 39.1s |   +5° 21' 56.4" |    0.4210244 AU |  00' 22.2" | -2.6
16 |   01h 19m 23.1s |   +5° 18' 35.3" |    0.4225173 AU |  00' 22.2" | -2.6
17 |   01h 18m 07.8s |   +5° 15' 21.3" |    0.4241753 AU |  00' 22.1" | -2.6
18 |   01h 16m 53.4s |   +5° 12' 15.4" |    0.4259982 AU |  00' 22.0" | -2.5
19 |   01h 15m 40.3s |   +5° 09' 18.3" |    0.4279853 AU |  00' 21.9" | -2.5
20 |   01h 14m 28.5s |   +5° 06' 31.0" |    0.4301358 AU |  00' 21.8" | -2.5
21 |   01h 13m 18.3s |   +5° 03' 54.2" |    0.4324485 AU |  00' 21.6" | -2.5
22 |   01h 12m 09.7s |   +5° 01' 28.5" |    0.4349221 AU |  00' 21.5" | -2.4
23 |   01h 11m 03.0s |   +4° 59' 14.6" |    0.4375552 AU |  00' 21.4" | -2.4
24 |   01h 09m 58.2s |   +4° 57' 13.1" |    0.4403461 AU |  00' 21.3" | -2.4
25 |   01h 08m 55.6s |   +4° 55' 24.4" |    0.4432932 AU |  00' 21.1" | -2.3
26 |   01h 07m 55.2s |   +4° 53' 49.0" |    0.4463948 AU |  00' 21.0" | -2.3
27 |   01h 06m 57.1s |   +4° 52' 27.4" |    0.4496491 AU |  00' 20.8" | -2.3
28 |   01h 06m 01.5s |   +4° 51' 19.9" |    0.4530543 AU |  00' 20.7" | -2.3
29 |   01h 05m 08.4s |   +4° 50' 26.7" |    0.4566085 AU |  00' 20.5" | -2.2
30 |   01h 04m 17.9s |   +4° 49' 48.3" |    0.4603099 AU |  00' 20.3" | -2.2
31 |   01h 03m 30.2s |   +4° 49' 24.8" |    0.4641564 AU |  00' 20.2" | -2.2
 
November 2020
Day|       RA        |       Decl      |     Distance    |  Ang Diam  | VMag
 1 |   01h 02m 45.2s |   +4° 49' 16.5" |    0.4681463 AU |  00' 20.0" | -2.1
 2 |   01h 02m 03.0s |   +4° 49' 23.5" |    0.4722775 AU |  00' 19.8" | -2.1
 3 |   01h 01m 23.6s |   +4° 49' 45.8" |    0.4765481 AU |  00' 19.6" | -2.1
 4 |   01h 00m 47.2s |   +4° 50' 23.7" |    0.4809562 AU |  00' 19.5" | -2.0
 5 |   01h 00m 13.8s |   +4° 51' 17.2" |    0.4854998 AU |  00' 19.3" | -2.0
 6 |   00h 59m 43.3s |   +4° 52' 26.3" |    0.4901771 AU |  00' 19.1" | -2.0
 7 |   00h 59m 15.8s |   +4° 53' 51.0" |    0.4949860 AU |  00' 18.9" | -1.9
 8 |   00h 58m 51.4s |   +4° 55' 31.3" |    0.4999246 AU |  00' 18.7" | -1.9
 9 |   00h 58m 30.0s |   +4° 57' 27.2" |    0.5049911 AU |  00' 18.5" | -1.9
10 |   00h 58m 11.7s |   +4° 59' 38.7" |    0.5101834 AU |  00' 18.3" | -1.8
11 |   00h 57m 56.4s |   +5° 02' 05.6" |    0.5154994 AU |  00' 18.2" | -1.8
12 |   00h 57m 44.3s |   +5° 04' 48.1" |    0.5209372 AU |  00' 18.0" | -1.8
13 |   00h 57m 35.2s |   +5° 07' 46.0" |    0.5264944 AU |  00' 17.8" | -1.7
14 |   00h 57m 29.2s |   +5° 10' 59.3" |    0.5321689 AU |  00' 17.6" | -1.7
15 |   00h 57m 26.2s |   +5° 14' 28.0" |    0.5379582 AU |  00' 17.4" | -1.7
16 |   00h 57m 26.4s |   +5° 18' 11.7" |    0.5438596 AU |  00' 17.2" | -1.6
17 |   00h 57m 29.6s |   +5° 22' 10.6" |    0.5498707 AU |  00' 17.0" | -1.6
18 |   00h 57m 35.8s |   +5° 26' 24.2" |    0.5559886 AU |  00' 16.8" | -1.6
19 |   00h 57m 44.9s |   +5° 30' 52.5" |    0.5622108 AU |  00' 16.6" | -1.5
20 |   00h 57m 57.1s |   +5° 35' 35.1" |    0.5685347 AU |  00' 16.5" | -1.5
21 |   00h 58m 12.1s |   +5° 40' 31.8" |    0.5749577 AU |  00' 16.3" | -1.5
22 |   00h 58m 30.0s |   +5° 45' 42.2" |    0.5814774 AU |  00' 16.1" | -1.4
23 |   00h 58m 50.7s |   +5° 51' 06.2" |    0.5880915 AU |  00' 15.9" | -1.4
24 |   00h 59m 14.2s |   +5° 56' 43.3" |    0.5947978 AU |  00' 15.7" | -1.4
25 |   00h 59m 40.3s |   +6° 02' 33.3" |    0.6015942 AU |  00' 15.6" | -1.3
26 |   01h 00m 09.2s |   +6° 08' 35.8" |    0.6084785 AU |  00' 15.4" | -1.3
27 |   01h 00m 40.7s |   +6° 14' 50.5" |    0.6154490 AU |  00' 15.2" | -1.3
28 |   01h 01m 14.7s |   +6° 21' 17.1" |    0.6225036 AU |  00' 15.0" | -1.2
29 |   01h 01m 51.3s |   +6° 27' 55.3" |    0.6296406 AU |  00' 14.9" | -1.2
30 |   01h 02m 30.4s |   +6° 34' 44.7" |    0.6368584 AU |  00' 14.7" | -1.2
 


   
   
   

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Taurus Eyes Venus

   Saturday morning July 11th the inner planet Venus will be about 1o from the reddish star Aldebaran in Taurus the Bull. Aldebaran marks the ‘angry eye’ of the bull and is at one end of a v-shaped group of stars, the Hyades, that make up the face of Taurus.

   Venus has just spent the past several days traversing the Hyades, an open star cluster composed of hundreds of stars. The Hyades, at a estimated distance of 150 light years, is the closest open star cluster in our galaxy to the Earth.
    With binoculars the view of Venus, the Hyades, and Aldebaran is striking with Venus brightly shining at about a -4.5 apparent magnitude and Aldebaran with a 0.9 apparent magnitude.

   Also on this day the 20-day old waning gibbous Moon will be about 4-5o from the planet Mars.

   
   
   
   
   
   

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Sun Not in Gemini

  According to the pseudoscience of astrology the Sun enters the constellation of the Gemini Twins on Wednesday May 20th. When in fact the actual position of the Sun on this date is still within the boundary of the constellation of Taurus the Bull, as this graphic and the banner graphic show.

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.


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

Sun Not In Taurus – 2020

April 19th  According to the pseudoscience of astrology the Sun enters the constellation of Taurus the Bull on Sunday April 19th. When in fact the actual position of the Sun on the 19th is within the boundary of the constellation of Aries the Ram, as this graphic shows. Actually the Sun had just entered Aries the day before on April 18th.

   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.
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

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The Moon and the Sisters

   Sunday evening March 1st the 7.5-day old nearly first quarter Moon, but still a waxing crescent Moon, will be 7-8o from the open star cluster the Pleiades. A few degrees from the Pleiades is another open star cluster the Hyades.
   These two open star clusters are part of the constellation Taurus the Bull. The Hyades make up the face of the Bull, while the Pleiades are located on the Bull’s shoulder. The Pleiades are also known as the “Seven Sisters”.
   
   
   

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Waxing Gibbous Moon Near Aldebaran

   Tuesday evening January 7th the 13-day old waxing gibbous Moon will be about 3-4o from the reddish star Aldebaran. Aldebaran is known as the ‘angry’ red eye of the constellation pattern Taurus the Bull.

    Aldebaran is located at one end of a v-shaped cluster of stars making up the face of the Bull. This group of stars are all part of an open star cluster known as the Hyades. They are one of two naked-eye visible open star clusters within the boundaries of the constellation. The other one is the little dipper-shaped group known as the Pleiades.

   
   
   

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A Bullish Moon, or A Moon – Bull Conjunction, or Bull Gets Mooned!

   Over the next 3 mornings, July 26, 27,and 28 before sunrise, the waning crescent Moon will be moving across the shoulders and head of the constellation Taurus the Bull. As it traverses the constellation pattern the waning Moon will come within about 8o from the open star cluster, the Pleiades and within about 4-5o from the v-shaped open star cluster the Hyades.
   This should make for some good viewing through binoculars, especially on the 27th when the Moon passes about 2-3o from the reddish star Aldebaran in the Hyades. How close the conjunction between the Moon and Aldebaran will be depends greatly on your viewing location’s longitude. This graphic is for when the two are their closest which is 2.5o around 1 UT (8 pm CDT).


   
   
   


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Sun Not in Leo


   According to the pseudoscience of astrology, Tuesday July 23rd the sun will be entering the constellation of Leo the Lion. In fact the Sun is still within the boundaries of the constellation Cancer the Crab, having just entered that region two days ago.
   The difference between the two locations of the Sun, the correct astronomical vs. the incorrect astrological, is due to the effects of precession, or more specifically, the precession of the Earth’s axis. The Earth wobbles on its axis like a spinning top does as the top slows down. So, in approximately 26,000 years the Earth will have spun, or wobbled one time. This is a repetitive cycle and over the course of one precession cycle the poles of the Earth trace out a circle against the background stars over their respective pole. any star on or nearest to this precession circle is the pole star. Currently the north pole of the Earth points toward Polaris and within this century, due to precession, will point the closest it will be, and then over time the Earth’s north pole will shift away.
   Another effect of precession has been to cause the celestial grid system to shift moving the original signs of the zodiac by at least one constellation to the west. In other words the Sun is more to the east which in effect means that whatever your zodiacal sign may be according to astrology, you are really the constellation to the west, or before it according to Astronomy.
   Click here to read a little more about precession from a previous blog.
   The Science of Astronomy has its roots in astrology with the origins of astrology beginning several millennia ago possibly by the Babylonians. Regardless of its origins the basis for at least Sun astrology, the popularized version printed in newspapers, is the position of the Sun relative to stars in the background. However we now know that due to the effects of precession the Sun’s position is no longer as it was during the beginnings of astrology.
    The slideshow below shows the sun’s position within Cancer on July 22nd 2016 AD, and then shifts to show the sun in Leo 4,000 years ago on 22 July 2016 BC. Precession has shifted the sun’s position one constellation to the west.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

   
   
   

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Sun Enters Gemini

click on graphic to see it full size   Saturday June 22nd the Sun in its apparent eastward motion along the ecliptic, moves out of the constellation Taurus the Bull and into the constellation of The Gemini Twins. 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.
   
   
   

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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.

   
   
   

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