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bobs-spaces.net by Bob Riddle - 1d ago

   Northern hemisphere spring comes to an end and its summer begins on Thursday day June 21st at 10:08 UT (5:08 am CDT) when the Sun ‘reaches’ the celestial coordinates of 23.5o north declination and 6 hours right ascension. With respect to the Earth’s surface the Sun is described as over the Tropic of Cancer, 23.5o, north latitude of the Earth’s equator. At this same time according to astrology the Sun is said to be entering the boundaries of the astrological constellation Cancer the Crab. Interestingly about 11 hours later, June 21st at 21 UT (4 pm CDT) the Sun will actually be entering the region of the Gemini Twins as it crosses the boundary between Gemini and Taurus.
Just had to include this!!

   We know that it is the Earth’s orbital motion around the Sun that causes the sun’s apparent eastward motion among the stars in the background. This is how the Sun ‘reaches’ a celestial coordinate, how it ‘crosses’ the boundaries between constellations, or how it is ‘in’ a constellation.

   With respect to the southern hemisphere this is the end of their summer and start of their fall season. So thinking globally my preference has been to use the name of the month to designate the season change. Hence the use of the term June Solstice rather than summer solstice.

   
   
   

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bobs-spaces.net by Bob Riddle - 2d ago

   Over the next few evenings, June 19th and 20th the inner planet Venus, as it orbits toward the east, will pass within about 0.5-1o from the open star cluster known as M-44, or the Beehive Cluster. Venus shines brightly with an apparent magnitude of -4.0 compared to the combined apparent magnitude of 3.7 for M-44. Further to the east is the first quarter Moon, but it should be far enough away so that its reflected light will not interfere too much with seeing the open star cluster.


   This should make for a great sight through binoculars or a wide-field view telescope eyepiece.

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

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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   Sunday evening the 4.3-day old waxing crescent Moon will be about 4o from the star Regulus, the heart of Leo the Lion. Spread across the sky from west to east are three planets, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn.

   
   
   

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   Saturday June 16th the waxing crescent Moon will be crossing the plane of the ecliptic moving north relative to the ecliptic. This is known as the ascending node, one of two intersections the Moon’s orbital path has with the ecliptic. The ecliptic is actually the Earth’s orbit and the Moon’s orbit is inclined about 6o from the ecliptic. So there are two node intersections, the ascending and descending nodes.

   On Saturday evening June 16th the 3.5-day old waxing crescent Moon will be about 8o east (left) from the planet Venus and about 3o from the open star cluster, M-44 also, known as the ‘Beehive Cluster’.

   Does our Moon actually go around the Earth as many graphics show? 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 return to bobs-spaces.


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   Friday evening June 15th the 3.75-day young waxing crescent Moon will be to the left from the ‘Twin’ stars of Pollux and Castor. A little further east or higher above the Moon is the ‘hard-to-miss’ planet Venus.

   Over the next 24 hours the Moon will have orbited eastward and by the same time Saturday evening June 16th the waxing crescent Moon will be ‘above’ Venus, or further east than Venus is.

   
   
   

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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bobs-spaces.net by Bob Riddle - 6d ago

   Our Moon reaches perigee, (closest distance from Earth), for this orbit on Thursday June 14th. At that time the Moon will be at a distance of 28.18 Earth diameters (359,500 km or 223,383 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*

   Thursday evening May 14th, shortly after sunset local time (8:26 CDT), look toward the western horizon for a conjunction between a thin 1.25-day young waxing crescent Moon and the innermost planet Mercury. The two will be about 2-3o apart but very low over the western horizon.

   *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.


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   Thursday evening June 14th the thin 1.25-day young waxing crescent Moon will be about 2-3o from the innermost planet Mercury as the two are setting about an hour after sunset local time.
    As the graphic shows both will be low over the horizon before the sky is dark so this may be an interesting challenge to see either one or both. On the other hand further east, higher above the horizon, and very bright appearing is the other inner planet, Venus.

   
   
   

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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   Saturday June 9th two of the outer planets, Mars and Saturn, will be at the same heliocentric longitude of about 278o, and would be in what is called a heliocentric conjunction. Heliocentric (Sun-centered) coordinates uses an overhead view of the solar system with planet location given as degrees of heliocentric longitude. The heliocentric longitude is based on a view from the Sun and is given as the angle between a planet and the vernal equinox. The vernal equinox, 0o, is located within the constellation of Pisces the Fishes, and is the intersection between the ecliptic and the celestial equator.
   As the Earth revolves around the Sun it ‘gives’ the Sun its apparent motion eastward along the ecliptic. When the Sun crosses the celestial equator at this intersection it is moving north. At the crossing northern hemisphere winter becomes spring – the opposite seasonal change for the southern hemisphere.

   Despite having the same heliocentric longitude, when viewed from the surface of the Earth, the two show an east to west difference of about 2 hours of right ascension.

   
   
   

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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bobs-spaces.net by Bob Riddle - 2w ago


   Over the next few evenings, June 7th to 10th, the inner planet Venus will pass the star Pollux, marking the head of one of the Gemini Twins. Pollux is on the left side as we view the ‘Twins’ face-on. This animated graphic is set for 10 pm CDT and shows the daily movement of Venus toward the east, combined with the daily motion of the stars toward the west as the Earth revolves around the Sun.


   The separation between Venus and Pollux will vary from about 4.5o to about 5.5o allowing at least these two to fit within a binocular field of view.

   
   
   

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   Yesterday I posted about the planet Mercury being at inferior conjunction. My mistake!! Mercury is actually 180o away from inferior conjunction on the opposite side of the Sun at superior conjunction.
I’ve edited the posting to show the correct position of Mercury.

   
   
   

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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