November Moon at Ascending Node

   Late in the evening of Saturday night November 16th the 20-day old waning gibbous Moon rises. As it is rising the Moon will be crossing the plane of the ecliptic moving north. This is known as the ascending node, one of two intersections the Moon’s orbital path has with the ecliptic. The ecliptic is actually the Earth’s orbit and the Moon’s orbit is inclined about 6o from the ecliptic. So there are two node intersections, the ascending and descending nodes.

   On the day of the node crossing the waning gibbous Moon will be about 7o from the star Pollux in the constellation of the Gemini Twins.

   Does our Moon actually go around the Earth as many graphics show? 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)

   
   
   

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Moon – Hyades Conjunction

   Wednesday evening November 13th watch for the 17-day old waning gibbous Moon to be rising with the stars of the Hyades, a v-shaped open cluster of stars making up the face of the Bull. The Moon will be about 1o from the brightest of the stars in the Hyades, the reddish star Aldebaran. Both, as well as the v-shaped Hyades will easily fit within the field of view of binoculars.
   From mythology Aldebaran with its reddish color represents the angry eye of Taurus. In that mythology the angry bull has its head lowered as it appears to be reading an attack on Orion the Hunter.

   
   
   

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Visualize the Ecliptic

Above the Terrestrial Planets this Month

   Once in a while the planets are arranged such that they are spread across the sky. The planets are not lined up in a straight line outward from the Sun but rather are arranged along the ecliptic. The ecliptic is the Earth’s orbital path around the Sun and the respective orbit of each planet is inclined from the ecliptic. And this is one of those times when it is easier to visualize the ecliptic. (see graphics below) Click here to read a previous posting about the ecliptic and planet inclination.

   As the animated graphic is showing the terrestrial planets are not arranged in a straight line. This graphic shows the solar system out to Neptune and from this perspective the planets are obviously not in a straight line.


   
   
   

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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November Moon at Descending Node


   Friday November 1st the Moon will be crossing the plane of the ecliptic moving south. This is known as the descending node, one of two intersections the Moon’s orbital path (dark green line) has with the ecliptic.

   On the day of the node crossing the 5.0-day old waxing crescent Moon will be over the southwestern horizon and will be about 3-4o to the west from the ringed planet Saturn. By Saturday evening, the 2nd, the Moon will have moved to the east of Saturn and will be about 8o from Saturn. Jupiter shines brightly further to the west. However with a more level horizon the two inner planets Mercury and Venus are visible. And with binoculars or telescope the Dwarf Planet Ceres could be seen about 3-4o from Jupiter.


   
   
   
   
   

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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Two Conjunctions this Evening

   Thursday evening October 31st look toward the western horizon but not for trick or treaters. Rather look for the two inner planets to be within about 2-3o from each other, and a bit further eastward for the Moon to be about 4-5o from Jupiter. Also the Dwarf Planet Ceres is within 3-4o from the crescent Moon. However Ceres is at 8th as compared with Jupiter at -2.0 and the crescent Moon at -11.0 apparent magnitudes. And before anyone asks Venus is at -3.9 and Mercury at 0.63 apparent magnitude.
   Each of the pairs will easily fit within the field of view of binoculars.

   
   
   

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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Crescent Moon Near Venus and Mercury

   Tuesday evening October 29th a very thin 2-day young waxing crescent Moon will be about 4-5o from the two inner planets Mercury and Venus. All three will easily fit within the field of view of binoculars – however be careful as they are not that far from the setting Sun.

   Over the next several days as the Moon waxes toward first quarter phase the Moon will pass by the Dwarf Planet Ceres and the outer planet Jupiter and then Saturn.

   
   
   

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October Moon at Perigee

   Our Moon reaches perigee, (closest distance to Earth), for this orbit, on Saturday October 26rd. At that time the Moon will be at a distance of 28.75 Earth diameters, 224,511 miles (361,316 km) from the Earth.

   On the day of the perigee Moon the 27.5-day old very thin waning crescent Moon will be over the eastern horizon rising within about 5-6o from the planet Mars. Both will be rising about 1 hour before the Sun so it may be difficult to see them.
   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)

   
   
   

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.


Also Follow me and other great resources at Feedspot.