A Lunar Eclipse and 2 Planet Conjunction

   Our Moon reaches full phase on July 5th and will be rising around sunset local time. Two of the giant outer planets, Jupiter and Saturn will be passed by the Moon over a two day period. On the 5th the full Moon will be about 6-7o to the west from Jupiter. The next day, July 6th, the waning gibbous Moon will have passed the two planets and the Moon will about 1-2o from Saturn. Both days should prove to be ‘binocular-worthy’ with the morning of the 6th having the Moon the closest to the planets.
   There will also be a partial penumbral lunar eclipse however this type of eclipse has the Moon passing through the faint outer shadow cast by the Earth. Even a total penumbral lunar eclipse is barely noticeable so as a partial do not expect to see much change in the Moon’s brightness.

   
   
   

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Moon – Mars/Neptune Conjunction

   Friday June 12th and Saturday June 13th before sunrise local time look toward the eastern horizon for the waning gibbous Moon to be near the planets Mars and Neptune. On both mornings the 20-22 day old Moon will be within about 7-9o from the two planets. Depending on your binoculars all three may fit within the field of view. However given the range of apparent magnitudes the reflected sunlight from Neptune (7.88) and possibly from Mars (-0.20) will be overshadowed by the much brighter Moon’s apparent magnitude (-12.0).


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2 Mornings – 2 Conjunctions

   Monday morning June 8th in the hours before sunrise look toward the western horizon for the 17-day old waning gibbous Moon to be within a few degrees from the outer planet Jupiter, and a bit further to the east the planet Saturn. With binoculars this conjunction could be followed for the next two mornings as the Moon will have moved to the other side of the two planets and closer to Saturn by Tuesday morning.


   
   
   
   


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Mars at Western Quadrature

orbital-positions   Saturday June 6th the position of the planet Mars, with respect to the Earth and the Sun, places this planet at what is called western quadrature. At that orbital position Mars, and actually any outer planet at their respective quadrature, is at a 90 degree angle from the Earth as this graphic shows, and the banner graphic at the top of the page shows. Think last quarter Moon as that is a fair comparison of the relative positions of Earth, Sun, and Mars. At this position Mars leads the Sun across the sky from east to west as the Earth is rotating, meaning that Mars rises before the Sun.

   Saturday morning finds Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, Dwarf Planet Ceres, Neptune, and the waning gibbous Moon spread across the morning skies from southeast to southwest.

   
   
   

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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June Moon at Descending Node

   Saturday June 6th the 14.7-day old waning gibbous Moon crosses 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 date of the descending node the waning gibbous Moon will be just getting ready to set about an hour or so before sunrise. To the east are three of the visible planets, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars. Dwarf Planet Ceres, and Neptune are also part of the line-up along the ecliptic, but both have apparent magnitudes too dim to be naked-eye visible.

   
   
   
   
   

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June Apogee Moon

   Our Moon reaches perigee, (closest to Earth), for this orbit, on Wednesday June 3rd. At that time the Moon will be at a distance of 28.56 Earth diameters, 226,406 miles (364,366 km) from the Earth.

   On the day of the perigee Moon the 13.3-day old waxing gibbous Moon rises a couple of hours before the Sun sets placing the Moon over the southeastern horizon around mid-evening.

   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-Jupiter-Saturn Conjunction

   Tuesday morning May 12th, before sunrise, the 19-day old waning gibbous Moon will be within a few degrees from the outer planets Jupiter and Saturn. All three 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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April Moon at Descending Node

   Monday April 13th the 20-day old waning gibbous Moon crosses 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 date of the descending node the waning gibbous Moon will be above the southern horizon at sunrise and will be near the eastern edge of the Milky Way. However the Moon’s reflected light dims out the glow of the Milky Way. To the east are 4 of the visible planets, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, and just rising above the horizon the innermost planet Mercury. Dwarf Planet Ceres, and Neptune are also part of the ecliptic line-up but both have apparent magnitudes too dim to be naked-eye visible.

   For this orbit the waning gibbous Moon has also reached its southernmost distance south from the celestial equator of 23.8o.

   
   
   
   
   

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The Moon and a Scorpion

   Saturday April 11th the 18-day old waning gibbous Moon will be about 6o from the reddish star Antares, the heart of Scorpius the Scorpion. Both will be over the southern horizon at sunrise local time. Joining the Moon and Antares are the planets Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars.

   
   
   

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Moon-Antares Conjunction

   Sunday morning March 15th look toward the southeastern horizon for a nice line-up of some visible planets and the 19-day old waning gibbous Moon. The Moon is about 7o from the reddish star Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion.
   Over the next several days the Moon, as it wanes toward new Moon, will move eastward past the planets that are lined up near the ecliptic. The planet Mars is also on the move eastward, albeit not as fast as the Moon.

   
   
   

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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