Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Moon joins Mars, Saturn, and Spica

The moon moved into the Saturn, Mars, Spica triangle last night. Tonight, it slides farther east leaving the trio behind. As the night's proceed, Mars also moves eastward, but very slowly, breaking apart the equilateral triangle and forming an isosceles triangle with Saturn and Spica. By the end of August, Mars begins approaching Zubenelgenubi in Libra.

In the photo Saturn is at the top and Spica lies near the bottom, just peeking above the trees. Mars is at the left, and, of course, the moon needs no introduction.

Such is our view from Earth...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Celestial Triple Play

Three bright celestial bodies lined up tonight for a rare triple star. Saturn appeared on top, Mars shone in the middle, and the star Spica twinkled on the bottom. Mars continues its trek eastward forming an attractive equilateral triangle with Saturn and Spica on August 20 and 21. Look to the west at 9:00 p.m. for the changing celestial scene.

Such is our view from Earth...

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mars splits Saturn and Spica

Tonight and tomorrow night Mars moves between Saturn and Spica, ending its two week long approach. After Tuesday, the Red Planet continues moving to the east sliding beyond Saturn and Spica.

Look to the west about 9:15 p.m. to see this.

The photo was taken last night (8/12). Mars (right) is almost forms a straight line with Saturn (top) and Spica (bottom).

Such is our view from Earth...

Mercury and the Moon

Mercury is the most difficult of all the "bright" planets to spot. A good opportunity to identify this little world comes on Wednesday morning, August 15. At 5:45 a.m., look to the east for the thin crescent moon hovering far below brilliant Venus. To the moon's lower left shines an object — Mercury — almost lost in the morning hazy twilight. To the moon's lower right, shines another object, the bright star Procyon, again, almost lost in the twilight. Mercury might appear a little brighter than Procyon.

Bring out the binoculars for an easier, more definitive view.

Such is our view from Earth...

Friday, August 10, 2012

Changing Western Triple Star

Mars, Saturn, and Spica continue to give a show in the early evening western sky. Look for Mars to continue to slide between Saturn and Spica. On Monday and Tuesday nights, the Red Planet positions itself between the Ringed Planet and the true star, Spica.

In the photo, Mars lies on the right and Saturn shines at the upper left. Spica twinkles on the lower left.

Such is our view from Earth...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Look to the sky for Mars and "Curiosity"

Congratulations to NASA for its incredible accomplishment of safely landing the advanced rover, Curiosity, on the surface of Mars! All went as planned.

You can find where Mars — and Curiosity — are located in our early evening sky. Look to the west at 9:15 p.m. for three similarly bright objects. The one on the right is Mars, lying some 155 million miles from us. (Mars is three times the distance from Earth as it was in March. This means it is now nine times dimmer, which is why the planet isn't a "standout" in the darkening sky.) The other two objects are Saturn, on top, and the star Spica, on the bottom left.

Over the next week, Mars creeps towards the gap spanning Saturn and Spica. It slides between them on  August 13 and 14.

Such is our view from Earth...

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

August 2012 Celestial Events

Mars approaches Saturn and Spica
August 6 through August 21, 9:15 p.m.: Mars, Saturn, and the bright star Spica form a tight group in the west-southwest. They effectively form a bright "triple star." (Remember though that Saturn and Mars aren't really stars.)
• August 6: Mars, Saturn and Spica form an equilateral triangle
• August 13 and 14: Mars splits the gap between Saturn and Spica.
• August 21: Mars, Saturn and Spica form an equilateral triangle. This time, Mars lies to the left of the other two.

August 11, 4:30 a.m.: The crescent moon floats next to Jupiter in the east.

August 12 and 13 before 1:30 a.m.: Perseid Meteor Shower. Emanating in the northeast. Up to 60 meteors per hour but most of them will be dim. After 1:30 a.m., the moon rises spoiling the view.

August 13, 4:30 a.m., The thin crescent moon hovers next to Venus in the east..

August 1 and August 31: Full Moon. The August 31 moon is the "Blue Moon," the second full moon in the month.

Such is our view from Earth...