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05/02/2022 – Ephemeris – The Moon and Mercury together where we can see them

May 2, 2022 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Monday, May 2nd. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 17 minutes, setting at 8:49, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:29. The Moon, 2 days past new, will set at 11:02 this evening.

The two-day-old thin sliver of a Moon will be left and above Mercury this evening. About the best time to spot them is between 9:30 and 10:15 pm, low in the western sky. They will be seen in the west-northwest. As we move through the week, the Moon will move away from Mercury to the east, while Mercury heads back toward the Sun and, dimming as it goes. Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun and averages 40 percent of the Earth’s distance from the Sun, so it is never seen at our northerly latitude outside of twilight. Mercury has the most elliptical orbit of the major planets. And it happens that at the best times to see Mercury, on spring evenings and autumn mornings, Mercury is at its nearest to the Sun. Southern Hemisphere observers get a better look at it because their best observing times are when Mercury is farthest from the Sun.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT – 4 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Mercury and the 2-day-old Moon

Mercury and the 2-day-old Moon as they might appear at 9:30 pm, or about 40 minutes after sunset tonight, May 2, 2022, looking low to the west-northwest. Aldebaran, slightly dimmer than Mercury, is the star to the left of the Moon. Created using Stellarium.

04/25/2022 – Ephemeris – The moon is passing the morning planet parade

April 25, 2022 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Monday, April 25th. Today the Sun will be up for 13 hours and 58 minutes, setting at 8:40, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:40. The Moon, 2 days past last quarter, will rise at 5:16 tomorrow morning.

Over this and the next couple of mornings, the waning crescent Moon will be passing the four morning planets. This morning it was below and between Saturn and Mars. Tomorrow morning, the Moon will be between and below Mars and Venus. Wednesday morning the Moon, Venus and Jupiter will make a nice right triangle with Jupiter above and a bit left of the Moon and Venus will appear above and a bit to the right of it. There’s some motion between Venus and Jupiter. While both are traveling eastward when comparing them to the stars, Venus is moving eastward faster, and is moving toward the Sun in our sky. Jupiter is moving away from the Sun from our vantage point. They will cross paths on Saturday.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT – 4 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

The Moon passing the morning planets from Sunday to Wednesday mornings 4/24 to 4/27/2022

The Moon passing the morning planets from Sunday to Wednesday mornings 4/24 to 4/27/2022. Note also the approach of Jupiter and Venus. Their paths will cross on Saturday, 4/30/2022. Click on the image to enlarge it. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

04/04/2022 – Ephemeris – Two apparent planetary encounters tonight and tomorrow morning

April 4, 2022 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Monday, April 4th. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 56 minutes, setting at 8:14, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:16. The Moon, 3 days past new, will set at 12:10 tomorrow morning. | We have action at both end of the night tonight. This evening the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters star cluster, will be seen just above and right of the three-day old crescent Moon. The cluster will be at the one o’clock position from the Moon at 9 pm. At the other side of night, at 6:30 tomorrow morning, Venus will be shining brilliantly in the east-southeast and the planets Mars and Saturn will be very close together. This type of appearance is called a conjunction. Mars will appear about three-quarters of a moon diameter below and left of the slightly brighter Saturn. Mars is getting slowly brighter as the Earth creeps up on it, to overtake it this December. It’s currently 165 million miles (266 million kilometers) away.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT – 4 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

The Moon and the Pleiades and Hyades tonight at 9 pm EDT, April 4, 2022. The Moon appears near the stepsister star clusters tonight. In Greek mythology, these two star clusters were indeed stepsisters, fathered by the god Atlas with different mothers. Created using Stellarium with additional captions in LibreOffice.

Saturn-Mars conjunction

A Saturn-Mars conjunction with brilliant Venus nearby as it might look like tomorrow morning, April 5, 2022. Created using Stellarium with labels added in LibreOffice.

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.