Taurus Eyes the Moon

   Saturday evening December 30th the 13-day old waxing gibbous Moon will be 1-2o from the reddish star Aldebaran. The star is often described as representing the angry eye of Taurus the Bull. Regardless Aldebaran is at one end of a v-shaped group of stars that make-up the face of Taurus. These stars are part of an open star cluster, the Hyades, consisting of several hundreds of stars located about 150 light years from the Earth.

   About 10o from the Hyades, on the shoulder of Taurus, is another well-known open star cluster – the Pleiades. This is a cluster of approximately 1,000 stars located at a distance of 400-450 light years. Easily seen with the naked-eye several of the brightest stars form a small dipper-shape.
   
   
   

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 in Conjunction With Uranus

   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.

   
   
   

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.

Taurus Sniffs the Moon!

   Saturday evening November 2nd the 14.5-day old waxing gibbous Moon (full Moon tomorrow) will be a couple of degrees from the reddish star Aldebaran in Taurus the Bull. Aldebaran is at one end of a v-shaped open star cluster, the Hyades, that makes up the face of Taurus. Because of its reddish color it has been described as the angry eye of the bull.
   Normally the Hyades are a great view with binoculars as is the Pleiades, another open star cluster that is often described as a ‘baby dipper’.

   
   
   

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.

October Moon at Descending Node, Again


   Sunday October 29th the waxing gibbous 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.
   

   On the day of the node crossing the 10-day old waxing gibbous Moon will be over the southern horizon an hour or so after sunset local time. The Moon will be about 10o from the outermost, and 8th, planet Neptune.
   
   
   
   

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.

October Moon at Descending Node

   Monday October 2nd the waxing gibbous 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.
   

   On the day of the node crossing the 13-day old waxing gibbous Moon will be over the east-southeast horizon an hour or so after sunset local time. The Moon will be about 10o from the outermost, and 8th, planet Neptune.
   
   
   
   

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.

September Moon at Descending Node

   Monday September 4th the waning gibbous 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.
   

   On the day of the node crossing the 14-day old waxing gibbous Moon will be over the east-southeast horizon an hour or so after sunset local time. The Moon will be about 10o from the outermost, and 8th, planet Neptune.
   
   
   
   

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.

August Moon at 2nd Apogee

   For the second time this month our Moon reaches apogee, (greatest distance from Earth), on Wednesday August 30th. At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 31.69 Earth diameters (404,308 km or 251,225 miles) from the Earth.

   On the day of the apogee the 10-day old waxing gibbous Moon rises during mid-afternoon and is about 7o from Saturn and around 10o degrees from the reddish star Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion.

   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?”

   
   
   

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.