Tuesday evening September 11th the 2.5-day old waxing crescent Moon will be 7-8o from the blue-white star Spica in Virgo the Harvest Maiden, and about 8-9o from the inner planet Venus. Joining Venus and the Moon are several planets arranged from west to east – Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars. Northwest from Venus is the dwarf planet Ceres, but at 8th apparent magnitude Ceres requires an optical aid like powerful binoculars or a telescope.to be seen.
The pair should prove to be an interesting sight with binoculars or a wide-field telescope eyepiece. Venus shines with an apparent magnitude of -4.4, while Spica has an apparent magnitude of about 1.0.
Our Moon reaches apogee, (greatest distance from Earth), on Thursday August 23rd. At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 31.81 Earth diameters (405,700 km or 252,090 miles) from the Earth.
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*
Read this very informative article about the Earth-Moon system and their orbital motions, written by Joe Hanson. “Do We Orbit the Moon?”
Over the next two evenings, Monday August 20th, and Tuesday the 21st, the waning gibbous Moon will pass within about 8-10o from the planet Saturn.
Joining the Moon and Saturn are the planets Venus, Jupiter, Mars, and Dwarf Planet Ceres.
Thursday August 16th Venus reaches the point in its orbit called greatest eastern elongation. As this graphic shows an inner planet, Venus or Mercury, is more or less at a right angle (90o) from the Sun and Earth at eastern elongation. From the surface of the Earth, your backyard, for example, Venus is to the left, or eastern side of the Sun and is setting after the Sun.
At eastern elongation the angle between Venus and the Sun is at its greatest, which for this elongation Venus will be 45.9o from the Sun. In terms of viewing Venus, this is as about as late as Venus will set, about 4 hours after sunset local time, meaning for some Venus may set close to midnight local time. This animated graphic shows Venus at sunset, then with Venus’s orbit shown, and then with the horizon removed to see where the Sun is relative to Venus.
From eastern elongation forward Venus will be moving westward toward the Sun, and each day setting closer and closer to the time of sunset. By October Venus will have orbited to inferior conjunction – between the Earth and the Sun. During this part of the inner planet orbit, from eastern elongation to inferior conjunction, the distance from Earth decreases and the apparent size of Venus increases. Venus also goes through phase changes much like our Moon, and so from eastern elongation to inferior conjunction Venus wanes from a small appearing gibbous phase to an increasingly thinner crescent phase.
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Over the next two evenings, Thursday August 16th, the waxing crescent Moon, and Friday the 17th, the first quarter Moon will pass within about 7-8o from the outer planet Jupiter. Jupiter with a -2.0 apparent magnitude, is about 0.5o from the 2.7 apparent magnitude star Zubenelgenubi in Libra the Scales.
Joining the Moon and Jupiter are the planets Venus, Saturn, Mars, and Dwarf Planet Ceres.
Monday evening August 13th the thin 2.5-day young waxing crescent Moon will be about 10o from the inner planet Venus, and about 8o from the Dwarf Planet Ceres. However at 8th magnitude Ceres will be not be naked-eye visible, but Venus at a -4.6 apparent magnitude will be hard to miss!
And spread out from west to east are the planets Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars.