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04/05/2021 – Ephemeris – Saturn, Jupiter and the Moon will be seen together tomorrow morning

April 5, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Monday, April 5th. Today the Sun will be up for 13 hours even, setting at 8:15, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:13. The Moon, 1 day past last quarter, will rise at 5:15 tomorrow morning.

By 6:30 am tomorrow morning, if it’s clear the waning crescent Moon will be seen near Saturn and Jupiter low in the southeastern sky. Saturn will be almost directly above the Moon. And Jupiter, which is much brighter than Saturn, will be farther off to the left of the Moon at the same height. At that hour, Saturn will be only 14 degrees above the horizon, while Jupiter will be only 10 degrees up. This will make telescopic viewing tough, since you’re looking through a lot of atmosphere. The planet images won’t be sharp and will be undulating due to atmospheric currents, though they are usually not as bad in the early morning as they are in the evening. Wednesday morning the Moon will be below Jupiter. However, in the coming weeks the planets will be getting higher. Both planets will be in prime evening position by August.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Saturn, Jupiter and the waning crescent Moon at 6:30 am tomorrow, April 6, 2021. Created using Stellarium 0.21.0.

12/25/2020 – Ephemeris – Did the “Star” of Bethlehem appear in 3 BC and again in 2 BC?

December 25, 2020 Comments off

Merry Christmas, this is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Christmas Day, Friday, December 25th. Today the Sun will be up for 8 hours and 48 minutes, setting at 5:07, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:19. The Moon, halfway from first quarter to full, will set at 4:53 tomorrow morning.

Many writers of the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD place Jesus’ birth around 2 BC, which had to be before Herod the Great’s death, which I suggest was in 1 BC marked by to a total lunar eclipse. In 3 and again in 2 BC there were star-like conjunctions or apparent joinings of the planets Jupiter and Venus against the backdrop of the constellation of Leo the Lion. A lion is related to Judah, son of Jacob by a blessing the latter gave his 12 sons in Genesis. The first conjunction occurred in August of 3 BC in the morning sky. In June the next year the two planets got together again, this time in the evening sky, just after Jesus would have been born in the lambing season of spring.

The event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

August 12, 3 BC conjunction

Here is an animation created using Stellarium of Jupiter and Venus, the brighter of the two seeming to coalesce on August 12, 3 BC in the early morning twilight. The ghostly image popping up in the second frame is the thin crescent Moon showing earth shine. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

The second appearance of the "Star"

On June 16th 2 BC, this time in the evening, Venus and Jupiter seem to coalesce as one, at least to the naked eye. Regulus (The Little King star) is the brightest star in Leo the lion. To the upper right of it is the Sickle, the front part of the lion and his head and mane. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

12/24/2020 – Ephemeris – Was the Star of Bethlehem a triple conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in 7 BC?

December 24, 2020 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Christmas Eve, Thursday, December 24th. Today the Sun will be up for 8 hours and 48 minutes, setting at 5:07, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:18. The Moon, 3 days past first quarter, will set at 3:50 tomorrow morning.

For many years the most popular theory for the origin of the Star of Bethlehem was a triple conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in 7 BC. This is because, due to Earth’s motion, other planets from our view point seem to reverse course when we pass them or are being passed in the circular racetrack of the solar system. When Jupiter and Saturn approach each other just before they go retrograde or reverse course they have a chance to pass each other, backup and pass again, then going forward to pass a third time. Jupiter and Saturn did that last in 1981, so it’s a reasonably rare occurrence, especially when it happens in front of the constellation Pisces which was supposedly related to the Jews.

The event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Jupiter-Saturn Triple Conjunction

Jupiter and Saturn pass each other three times from May to December in 7 BC against the constellation of Pisces. Reload the page to replay the animation. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts) and GIMP.

Retrograde motion explained

Retrograde motion illustrated using Mars in 2018. Created using my LookingUp program.

 

 

12/21/2020 – Ephemeris – Jupiter and Saturn will appear super close tonight

December 21, 2020 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Monday, December 21st. Today the Sun will be up for 8 hours and 48 minutes, setting at 5:05, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:17. The Moon, at first quarter today, will set at 12:45 tomorrow morning.

Today we begin winter and the conjunction or extremely close grouping of Jupiter and Saturn low in the southwestern sky from about 6 to 7 pm. At that time they will be a fifth of the diameter of the Moon apart. Depending on sky conditions, Saturn may not even be visible, lost in twilight or in the glare of Jupiter which is 11 times brighter. A pair of binoculars, or a low power telescope will confirm their appearance, with Saturn to the upper right of Jupiter. Conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn occur about every 20 years, the last in 2000. The conjunction before that was a triple conjunction like has been proposed for the Star of Bethlehem occurring during the first 11 months of 1981. The next conjunction will be on November 5th, of 2040.

The event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

 

Jupiter and Saturn as they would appear in a low power telescope field

Jupiter and Saturn as they would appear in a low power telescope field tonight December 21, 2020, between 6 and 7 pm. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts)

The Earth-Jupiter-Saturn conjunction line of sight.

The Earth-Jupiter-Saturn conjunction line of sight. Created using my LookingUp for Windows program.

Categories: Conjunction Tags: ,

11/26/2020 – Ephemeris – A look at Saturn (planet and god) in mythology

November 26, 2020 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 26th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 11 minutes, setting at 5:05, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:55. The Moon, 4 days before full, will set at 4:59 tomorrow morning.

Over the next 25 days Jupiter and Saturn will draw together to be in conjunction. And like I said Tuesday, I don’t know what that means astrologically, since I don’t believe in that stuff. I find the universe quite indifferent to my fate or the fate of anything happening on the third rock. Saturn, which will seem to cross paths with Jupiter on the evening of December 21st, a few hours after winter starts is named after the Roman god of agriculture and periodic renewal among others. He is depicted carrying a scythe, and even today we see him as the Grim Reaper, and at the end of the year as Father Time. The Saturn is the Roman counterpart of the Greek Cronus a Titan, the bringer of old age. It’s a fitting name for the slowest of the naked-eye planets, known from antiquity, taking almost 30 years to shuffle its way around the Sun.

The event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Saturn and rings

Saturn and rings from the Cassini spacecraft, plus the aurora oval in ultraviolet. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

A statuette of Cronus (Saturn) shown holding a scythe and an hour glass. Source: https://respuestas.tips/quien-es-cronos-en-la-mitologia-griega/

11/24/2020 – Ephemeris – Next month’s conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn

November 24, 2020 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Tuesday, November 24th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 14 minutes, setting at 5:06, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:53. The Moon, 3 days past first quarter, will set at 2:57 tomorrow morning.

Over the next 27 days Jupiter and Saturn will draw together to be in conjunction. I don’t know what that means astrologically, since I don’t believe in that stuff. It just means that Jupiter and Saturn lie near the same line of sight from the Earth. Though they will be almost as close as they get to each other, that won’t be that close. They were closest to each other earlier this month, at about 450 million miles (724 million kilometers). Jupiter is now about 525 million miles (845 million kilometers) away from us. Both, of course, are on the other side of the Sun from us. Jupiter, in its nearly 12 year orbit of the Sun laps the slower Saturn in it’s nearly 30 year orbit about every 20 years. It will do so again on November 5th of 2040.

The event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Possible telescope view of Jupiter-Saturn conjunction 6 pm, December 21, 2020

Possible telescopic view of Jupiter-Saturn conjunction 6 pm, December 21, 2020. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Jupiter and Saturn along the same line of sight

Jupiter and Saturn along the same line of sight from the Earth on December 21, 2020. Created using my LookingUp program.

08/28/2020 – Ephemeris – Tonight Jupiter and the Moon will appear together in the sky

August 28, 2020 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Friday, August 28th. Today the Sun will be up for 13 hours and 24 minutes, setting at 8:25, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:02. The Moon, 3 days past first quarter, will set at 2:56 tomorrow morning.

Tonight at 9:33 pm the Moon will pass Jupiter in our skies. Jupiter will appear about 5 moon-widths above the Moon. It’s a good time to get out those binoculars or a small telescope to look at them. Jupiter will have its four brightest moons, two on each side. They are pretty close in. Tomorrow night they will all be on the west side of the planet. The waxing Gibbous Moon shows most of the Earth facing side now. The sunrise line a day ago brought the crater Copernicus into light on the east or left side of the Moon. Otherwise the east side of the Moon is flatter than the west side being dominated by two flat lunar seas, actually lava plains called the Sea of Clouds and Ocean of Storms. The Moon has never seen clouds or storms.

The event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Jupiter, Saturn and the Moon

Jupiter, Saturn and the Moon as they would appear to the naked eye at 9:33 pm tonight August, 28, 2020. Created using Stellarium which unfortunately shows the Moon dimmer than the planets. In reality is that the Moon very much brighter, almost overpowering the planets.

Telesscopic Jupiter

Jupiter and its 4 Galilean moons as the would appear in a telescope tonight August 28, 2020. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Chart).

Gibbous Moon

The gibbous Moon tonight as it might appear in a low power telescope. Created using Stellarium.

 

06/11/2020 – Ephemeris – The Moon passes Mars starting tomorrow morning

June 11, 2020 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Thursday, June 11th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 31 minutes, setting at 9:28, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:56. The Moon, 2 days before last quarter, will rise at 2:04 tomorrow morning.

In the morning sky tomorrow and Saturday morning the Moon will be passing Mars. Actually you’ll see a before and after shot of them because the Moon’s passage south of Mars will occur about 6 pm tomorrow evening when we can’t see them. Mars is getting brighter as we, on the Earth approach it. It is also getting larger in telescopes. On Wednesdays on this blog besides showing where the planets are, I show what they might look like in a small telescope. Until this week Mars appeared too small for me to show detail on Mars. However it is now large enough to maybe see a polar cap and some other detail depending on telescope size. Mars will double its apparent size between now and October.

The event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Moon and Mars animation

Moon and Mars animation for 5 am Friday June 12, 2020 and 4:56 am Saturday June 13th. The Jump between of 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4 seconds is the Earth’s sidereal day, the true period of its rotation in relation to the stars. Note that the few stars visible do not move, but Mars and the Moon do. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

05/22/2020 – Ephemeris – Venus hangs out with Mercury and the Moon this weekend

May 22, 2020 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Friday, May 22nd. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 5 minutes, setting at 9:12, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:06. The Moon is new today, and won’t be visible

Low in the northwest shortly after sunset our brilliant evening star Venus may be seen. It’s getting closer to the Sun every evening. This is an illusion because Venus is in the process of passing between the Earth and the Sun, so it’s not getting closer to the Sun, but it is getting closer to us at 29 million miles (46.8 million km) today. Mercury has passed Venus and is now to the left and a bit above Venus as seen at 10 p.m. Both are pretty close to the horizon, so you may have to move to a spot with a low northwestern horizon. Tomorrow night the day old sliver of the Moon will be spotted just below both of them. It should be quite a sight with these two planets and the Moon in the twilight, just after sunset.

The event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Venus, Mercury, Moon Animation

Venus, Mercury, Moon animation for 10 pm May 22nd, 23rd and 24th, 2020. The Moon is shown 3 times actual size in an attempt to show its phase. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

04/14/2020 – Ephemeris – The Moon will be hanging out with the morning planets tomorrow

April 14, 2020 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Tuesday, April 14th. Today the Sun will be up for 13 hours and 28 minutes, setting at 8:27, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:57. The Moon, at last quarter today, will rise at 3:56 tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow morning the Moon will be in the midst of passing the three morning planets, from right to left: Jupiter, Saturn and Mars. Specifically, the last quarter Moon will be below Saturn at 6 a.m. Mars is traveling east rapidly. Its rise times decrease by only two minutes a day compared to the 4 minutes a day for the stars, so it won’t enter the evening sky until October, while Jupiter and Saturn will enter the evening sky in July. A planet is considered to be in the morning sky if it rises after sunset, and in the evening sky if it rises before sunset. Rising in the morning is definitely after sunset. The dividing point is when a superior* planet is at opposition from the Sun when it enters the evening sky, or in conjunction with the Sun when it enters the morning sky.

The event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

* Superior planets have orbits outside the Earth’s orbit: Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

Addendum

Morning planets and Moon

Morning planets and Moon in the south-southeast tomorrow morning at 6 a.m. April 15, 2020. Click on image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.