Friday August 3rd all of the planets, except for Mercury, and some of the Dwarf Planets will be over the horizon during the hours before sunrise and the hours before sunset. The dwarf planets Pluto (14.2), Haumea (17.2), Makemake (16.7), and Eris(18.5) with low apparent magnitudes are too distant to be visible other than with larger aperture telescopes. However Dwarf Planet Ceres, at 8th magnitude could be visible with smaller telescopes and certainly with long exposure time imaging.
Sunday morning May 13th the 27-day old thin waning crescent Moon and the planets Mercury and Uranus will be in a grouping that will fit within a binocular field of view. All three rise about 1 hour before sunrise.
This may also be an opportunity to see a crescent Moon that is within about 1 1/2 days from its new Moon phase.
Saturday March 3rd the outer planets Mars and Jupiter will be at a position along their respective orbits where they have the same heliocentric longitude of approximately 223o. However this does not mean that if you were to observe the two in the morning skies that they would be lined up. The are not. Rather, as this graphic shows, the two planets are lined up with each other and with the Sun, while the Earth is at a lower heliocentric longitude and not in the same line as the two planets.
Tuesday January 30th Mars and Uranus will reached their respective orbital positions that have them 180o apart. Mars will be located at approximately 207.6o and Uranus at approximately 27.6o of heliocentric longitude. This called heliocentric opposition.
Interestingly at their last heliocentric opposition, February 26th 2016, Mars was located at approximately 200.0o and Uranus at approximately 20.0o of heliocentric longitude.
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.
Wednesday evening December 27th the 10-day old waxing gibbous Moon will be a few degrees from the ringed planet Uranus. Given the dimmer 5.7 apparent magnitude of Uranus, and the considerably brighter Moon’s -12.42 apparent magnitude Uranus will not be visible. However Uranus at this apparent magnitude, and without the interference from ‘moonlight’, would be visible with the unaided-eye, and would certainly be visible with binoculars.
Nearby, below the Moon as it rises, is the dwarf Planet Eris, which at 18th apparent magnitude is definitely out of the visible range of all but larger telescopes.
Thursday October 19th the outer planet Uranus reaches a position in its orbit around the Sun when it is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun. This coincidentally is known as opposition, and it is an orbital position which only the planets further from the Sun than the Earth may reach.
On Thursday the outer planet Uranus will be several degrees from an even more outer planet, Dwarf Planet Eris. Both rise during the evening hours and are over the southwestern horizon before sunrise.
Ok, so how can you Moon Uranus? Yeah I know – a sad, and bad joke. Let’s put it behind us.
Sunday morning, August 13th, the 21-day old waning gibbous Moon rises within a few degrees from the planet Uranus. Both are within the eastern fish of the constellation Pisces the Fishes. Uranus ‘shines’ at just under 6th magnitude so it is possible to see the 7th main planet from the Sun with binoculars. However the reflected light from the Moon will brighten the sky more than enough to drown out the dimmer light from Uranus and most other stars in the area making them not visible.
Not that it will be visible but near the Moon on the opposite side from Uranus is one of the dwarf planets, Eris. However at nearly 19th magnitude and almost 95.729 AU, (8,898,566,474 miles ; 14,320,854,563 km) from the Earth it is all but impossible to see without some serious amateur equipment, at an observatory, or with the Hubble Telescope. Add approximately an additional 1 AU (93,000,000 miles; 1,496,68992,000 km) to get its distance from the Sun.
What did I say about enough of the ‘bad jokes’? This cartoon reminded me of the statement, “Captain, We’re orbiting Uranus searching for Klingons.”
Speaking of Uranus here is a portion of the Orbits performance video showing Uranus and some of its moons.