Moon Cruises Past Planets and Stars

feb5-bino
   Over the next several evenings the Moon, as it orbits toward the east and waxes from crescent to first quarter phase will pass by several planets, dwarf planets, and star clusters. On the evening of February 5th the Moon will be close to the reddish star Aldebaran, the ‘eye’ in the face of the angry bull, Taurus. This should make for a nice view with binoculars or low power eyepiece when the Moon will sort of overlay the stars of the open star cluster the Hyades.

   These two animated graphics show the sky as viewed from Quito Ecuador at 0o latitude, and my home latitude of approximately 40o North. They show the sky at one day intervals starting with February 1st and ending with February 5th.


   
   
   

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.

Moon Conjunction with Mars and Venus

31jan-bino   Wednesday February 1st the 4-day old waxing crescent Moon will be near the planets Mars and Venus as this simulated view with 10×50 binoculars shows.

   These two graphics show the sky as viewed from Quito Ecuador at 0o latitude, and my home latitude of approximately 40o North. 


   
   
   

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.

Moon Near Venus


   Sunday evening January 1st the 4-day old thin waxing crescent Moon will be within 5o to the west (right) from the inner planet Venus.

   Below is a picture of the Moon and Venus through the clouds this evening.
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

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.

Mars Moves Into the New Year

   Over the next several days Mars will catch up with and then pass by Neptune coming within less than 0.5o on December 31st. Mars moves at a daily rate of about 0.5o while Neptune moves about 0.006o each day. If you were on Mars observing Neptune you would see Neptune begin its retrograde motion. Interestingly from here on Earth Neptune has just ended its retrograde motion. It’s all relative as somebody probably said.
   Both planets will be above the southwestern at sunset local time with only Mars being visible without the use of an optical aid.
   Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdušáková may be bright enough to be visible with binoculars and certainly with a telescope, and definitely should make for an interesting picture with the waxing crescent Moon nearby.
   
   
   
   

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.

A Comet Comes This Way

   Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdušáková is a short period comet having an orbital path that takes it from beyond the orbit of Jupiter around the Sun approximately every 5.25 years. This current apparition has the comet starting to become brighter and more visible as it approaches its closest to the Earth on February 11th. On that date it will be visible in the morning skies before sunrise at a distance of 0.084 AU (7,808,288 miles; 12,566,221 km) from the Earth with an estimated apparent magnitude of 8.0.
   Click here to read more and see some viewing graphics.
   An important caveat about comet predictions:
“A comet is like a cat. Both have tails and both do what they want.”

   
   
   

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.

December Apogee Moon and A Special BirthDate

25dec-apogee_moonOur Moon reaches apogee, (greatest distance from Earth), on Sunday December 25th. At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 31.80 Earth diameters (405,870 km or 252,196 miles) from the Earth.
   A Special Birth Date:
   Centuries ago on December 25th a birth occurred that would later lead to a knew understanding of the universe and our place within the universe. Were he alive today Isaac Newton would be 374 years old. Happy B-Day Isaac!
   But wait! Was Isaac Newton born on December 25th 1642, or January 4th 1643? At that time there were two calendars in use and the part of England where he was born had not yet switched to the new Gregorian Calendar which would have his birthdate in January rather than December as shown on the Julian Calendar. Here is an interesting explanation about this.

   Does our Moon actually go around the Earth as the above 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?”

   
   The nearly new Moon, a 26-day old thin waning crescent Moon, rises about 2 hours before the Sun.

   
   
   
   

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.

December Moon Descends on Neptune

   Well not exactly descending on Neptune but on Tuesday December 6th the first quarter 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. Several hours after the node crossing the Moon will pass within less than 0.5o from Neptune – that separation depending on your longitude/time zone.
(The Moon and Neptune in the graphic have exaggerated sizes.)
   

   On the day of the node crossing the 7-day old first quarter Moon rises around mid-day local time and is visible most of the night, setting a couple of hours after midnight.

   
   
   

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.