Waxing Crescent Moon Near Venus

   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.

   
   
   

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A Sky Full of Planets

   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.

   
   
   

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July Full Moon at Apogee, Descending Node, A Lunar Eclipse, and Conjunction with Mars

Apogee Moon
   Our Moon reaches apogee, (greatest distance from Earth), on Friday July 27nd. At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 31.84 Earth diameters (406,223 km or 252,415. 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*
*Click here to read my 2006 Scope on the Sky column “The Real Shape of the Moon’s Orbit”. (PDF)
Read this very informative article about the Earth-Moon system and their orbital motions, written by Joe Hanson. “Do We Orbit the Moon?”

Descending Node
   Friday July 27th the full 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.

Total Lunar Eclipse
   When the Moon crosses the ecliptic, a node crossing, and the Moon is either at full or new phase there will be an eclipse. The length of the eclipse and whether or not it will be partial or total depends upon the timing. The closer the two events are to each other the greater the eclipse. This total lunar eclipse will be a long one at nearly 2 hours for totality. However the eclipse will not be visible from North America.
   Get eclipse information from the Hermit Eclipse web site.
   Watch the Lunar Eclipse live. Webcast hosted by the Bareket Observatory in Israel. Webcast starts at 18:30 UTC (1:30 pm CDT).

Conjunction
   On the day of the apogee and descending node the full Moon will be over the southern horizon and within about 6-7o from the planet Mars.

   
   
   

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Moon-Saturn Conjunction

   Tuesday evening July 24th the 12-day old waxing gibbous Moon will be within about 2o from the planet Saturn. To west from Saturn is the planet Jupiter and further west over the southwestern horizon is the inner planet Venus. To the east from Saturn is Dwarf Planet Pluto and just rising in the east is the planet Mars.

   The two, Moon and Saturn, should make a fine sight through binoculars or a low power wide-field telescope eyepiece. They are located in an area of the Milky Way rich with deep-sky objects like M-8, the Lagoon Nebula. Unfortunately the reflected light from the Moon drowns out the dimmer deep-sky objects. However a few days from now the Moon will be rising later and will not interfere with seeing some of these objects.

   
   
   

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 Conjunction

   Friday evening July 20th the 8-day old waxing gibbous Moon will be 3-4o from the ringed planet Jupiter. Joining Jupiter to the west is Venus, and east from Jupiter are the planets Saturn and Mars.
   Close to Jupiter is 3rd magnitude star Zubenelgenubi in Libra the Scales.

   
   
   

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Venus-Regulus Conjunction


   Monday evening July 9th the inner planet Venus will be within about 1o from the heart of Leo the Lion, the star Regulus. Through binoculars or with a camera the close conjunction should prove to be worth taking a look. Joining Venus to the west is the other inner planet, Mercury, and to the east are the 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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A Planetary Line-Up, Plus the Moon

   For the next week or so the evening skies will be filled with planets and dwarf planets. With the right timing and a relatively flat horizon you might be able to see Venus just before it sets and Mars just after it rises. A caveat to this is that as each day passes Mars will rise earlier while Venus, each day, will be setting earlier. And with the exception of Ceres the dwarf planets are too dim to be seen with the naked eye.

   As this graphic shows, the planets are closer to the ecliptic than the dwarf planets due to differences in the respective inclinations. Inclination: Every object orbiting the Sun has an orbital path that is tilted or inclined from the Earth’s orbit – the ecliptic.

   The waxing gibbous Moon is roughly mid-way between the red star Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion and the planet 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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