Moon-Venus Conjunction + M44

   Monday morning September 14th look eastward in the pre-dawn skies for the 26-day old waning crescent Moon to be about 4-5o from the planet Venus and about the same distance from the open star cluster M-44, the Beehive Custer.

   The trio should make for an interesting view with binoculars.
   
   
   
   
   
   

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September Moon at Ascending Node

   Wednesday September 10th the 22-day old last quarter 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 morning of the node crossing the 22-day old last quarter crescent Moon will be to the east of the reddish star Aldebaran in Taurus the Bull. If you are a late night type watch for the Moon to rise around midnight local time giving you an opportunity to see Mars, Saturn and Jupiter arranged across the sky.

   On the other hand if you are like me and an early morning type then look for the Moon to be high above the southern horizon an hour or two before the Sun rises. Venus will be over the eastern horiozn and Mars over the southwestern horizon.

   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)
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

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 – Hyades Conjunction

   Spoiler Alert: This is an early morning thing! The 21-day old Waning gibbous Moon rises late tonight (September 8th) just before midnight and then will be visible above the horizon through the rest of the morning pre-dawn hours on Wednesday September 9th. During that time the Moon will be passing the open star cluster, the Hyades, and will be about 4-5o from the reddish star Aldebaran in Taurus the Bull. From mythology the v-shaped open star cluster is the face of the Bull while Aldebaran, with its reddish color, represents the ‘angry eye’ of Taurus as it prepares to attack.

   An open star cluster, like the v-shaped Hyades and the dipper-shaped Pleiades make for interesting views using binoculars, and especially when another celestial object passes by.

   
   
   

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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September Apogee Moon

   Our Moon reaches apogee, (furthest from Earth), for this orbit, on Sunday September 6th. For this apogee the 19-day old waning gibbous Moon will be at a distance of 31.79 Earth diameters, 252,031 miles (405,606 km) from the Earth.

   On the date of the apogee the 19-day old waning gibbous Moon will be about 5o to the east from the planet Mars and both very visible through the night hours. Not visible to the naked-eye because of the bright Moonshine is the outer planet Uranus with a 5.8 apparent magnitude about 2-3o from the Moon.

   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.


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Moon-Mars Conjunction

   Saturday evening September 5th watch for the 18-day old waning gibbous Moon to be very close, about 0.5-1o, from the planet Mars. Both objects are bright with Mars having a -1.93 apparent magnitude compared with the Moon’s much brighter -12.0 apparent magnitude.
   For another apparent magnitude comparison look west for the planets Jupiter (-2.52) and Saturn (0.33).

   The two, Mars and the Moon, should make for a striking combination with binoculars or low-power telescope eyepiece.

   
   
   

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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Planetary Line-Up Ecliptic Style

   Look at the arrangement of the planets in the graphics below. One of the defining aspects of our solar system is the arrangement of the planets outward from the Sun. Not by size or distance but rather how their respective orbital paths around the Sun are all vertically arranged near the Earth’s orbital path, or as it is typically referred to as the Ecliptic or the Plane of the Ecliptic. The 8 classic planets all orbit the Sun with an orbital path that is up to about 8o from the ecliptic. This is called inclination. The table shows inclination relative the Earth’s orbit and also relative to the Sun’s center, its equator.
    Click on this link to read a previous posting (Tales Along the Ecliptic) about the ecliptic and inclination.
   During this week as the Moon moves eastward it will pass by the outer ringed planet Neptune Tuesday and Wednesday evenings September 1st and 2nd as the graphics show. However given the tremendous difference in apparent magnitude between the two (full Moon: -12.64 ; Neptune: 7.81) Neptune will not be visible, at least not while the Moon in nearby.


   Keep following the Moon as it orbits eastward toward the planet Mars when on September 5th Mars and the waning gibbous Moon will be less than 1o apart.
   
   
   

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 – Jupiter/Saturn Conjunctions

   Friday and Saturday evening August 28th and 29th the 9 to 10-day old waxing gibbous Moon will be passing by the outer planets Jupiter and Saturn. On Friday evening the Moon will be about 1-2o from Jupiter and by the same time Saturday evening the Moon will be about 6-7o from Saturn. On either of the evenings the Moon and a planet will 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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the Moon and the Scorpion

   Tuesday evening August 25th watch for the 7-day old first quarter Moon to be about 5o from the reddish star Antares. This star, sometimes known as ‘the rival of Mars’ because the color of the planet and Antares are strikingly similar. This is most notable during the years when Mars passes by Antares and the two are together in the sky.
    From mythology Antares is the ‘heart’ of Scorpius the Scorpion. In reality Antares is a red supergiant star that is the 15th brightest night time star. As the brightest star in the constellation of Scorpius Antares is the alpha star or α Scorpii (alpha scorpii).
   Antares is so big in size that it dwarfs many other stars, yet there stars bigger than Antares!

   
   
   

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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Virgo Grabs for a Croissant – or is it Crescent?

   Saturday August 22nd the 4-day old waxing crescent Moon will be about 4-5o from the bluish-white star Spica in the constellation Virgo the Harvest Maiden. Spica, from mythology, is described as the bundle of grasses (wheat, oats ?) in her hand – which is appropriate for something representing agriculture.
   Rising in the east is a pair of outer planets, Jupiter and Saturn.

   
   
   

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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August Moon at Perigee

   Our Moon reaches perigee, (closest to Earth), for this orbit, on Friday August 21st. At that time the Moon will be at a distance of 28.50 Earth diameters, 225,868 miles (363,500 km) from the Earth.

   On the day of the perigee Moon the 3-day old waxing crescent Moon will be over the western horizon setting about 3 hours after the Sun sets. Rising over the eastern horizon are two of the giant outer planets, Jupiter and Saturn.

   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.


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