Posts Tagged ‘Mercury Greatest Western Elongation’

Many Astronomical Events Coming Up!

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

September is a busy month: besides Jupiter and Uranus reaching opposition at the same time, Mercury will reach its greatest western elongation, and the Autumnal Equinox and harvest moon will occur.

Mercury will reach its greatest western elongation on September 19. It will rise over an hour before sunrise and should be a great telescope target in the eastern sky into late September. It will appear at its highest and brightest point on the 19th.

The Autumnal Equinox occurs September 22 and the harvest moon follows September 23. The harvest moon is the full moon that occurs closest to the autumnal equinox, called that because its rising time nearly overlaps the setting sun so farmers could continue the harvest into the night hours due to the moon’s light. Since the Autumnal Equinox, when the sun rises due east and sets due west (everywhere except at the poles), is on September 22, the full moon the following night (September 23) is the harvest moon.

Please Note: The above article is made possible by the research and writing of JJ Stamm - Thank you JJ

May 2010

Saturday, May 1st, 2010

Lunar Events

The New Moon for May occurs on Thursday, May 13th.  This will make the Weekend of May 15-16 the best weekend for dark sky observing.

The Full Moon for May occurs on May 27th and is known as the “Full Strawberry Moon” or “Full Rose Moon.”

Mercury

Mercury appears to the morning hours on May 5th and will be visible as the Morning Star for the rest of the month.

Mercury GWEMercury will reach it’s best morning view on May 25th, when it reaches it’s Greatest Western Elongation and is 25°7’46” from the Sun. Note the red line is the orbit of Mercury and the green line is the Ecliptic.

Mercury begins May in the constellation Aries (The Ram), and on May 9th, Mercury crosses into the constellation Pisces (The Fish).  On May 14th, Mercury moves into the constellation Cetus (The Sea Monster) until May 22nd when it returns to the constellation Aries.

Mercury and Moon
On May 12th as Mercury ends its retrograde motion, the waning, crescent Moon will pass less than 6°40’ of Mercury.

Venus

Venus is the Evening Star All Month and is visible after sunset.

Venus begins this month in the constellation Taurus (The Bull) until May 19th, when it crosses into the constellation Gemini (The Twins).

Venus and M35
On May 21st, Venus passes less than 0°50’ from the Open Star cluster known as M35.

Venus and Mensuta
On May 27th, Venus is in near conjunction with the Double Star Mensuta, in Gemini, and passes less than 0°25’ of Mensuta.

Mars

Mars is still in great position for observation in the evening this month.  At the start of May, Mars sets around 2:15 am (PDT) and by the end of the month, Mars sets around 12:50 am (PDT).

Mars begins the month in the constellation Cancer (The Crab) and on May 12th, Mars crosses into the constellation Leo (The Lion).

Mars and Moon
On May 19th, the waxing, crescent Moon sets within 5°45’ of Mars.

Jupiter

Jupiter is observable in the morning hours of May.  At the beginning of May, Jupiter rises around 4:05 am (PDT) and by the end of May it rises, less than 1° away from Uranus, around 2:20 am (PDT).

Jupiter starts the month in the constellation Aquarius (The Water Bearer), But crosses into the constellation Pisces (The Fish) on May 2nd where it remains for the rest of May.

Jupiter and Uranus and Moon
On May 9th, Jupiter rises less than 5°10’ of the waning, crescent Moon and less than 4° of the planet UranusJupiter continues to move closer to Uranus throughout the month of May, ending May less than 1° of Uranus. Jupiter and Uranus will reach conjunction on June 7th.

Saturn

Saturn is located in the constellation Virgo (The Maiden) until December 2012 and is observable during the evening to mid-night hours of May.  Saturn sets around 4:20 am (PDT) at the start of May, and by the end of the month, sets around 2:20 am (PDT).

Saturn and Moon
On May 22nd, the waxing, gibbous Moon passes within 7°45’ of Saturn.

Uranus

Uranus is located in the constellation Pisces (The Fish) until May 2012. This month, Uranus can be observed in the morning hours before sunrise.  At the start of May, Uranus rises around 4:15 am (PDT) and by the end of the month, Uranus rises around 2:20 am (PDT) and is less than 1° from Jupiter. Jupiter and Uranus will reach conjunction on June 7th.

Jupiter, Uranus and Moon
On May 9th, the waning, crescent Moon passes less than 5°35’ of Uranus.

Jupiter and Uranus
By May 31st , Uranus is less than 1° from Jupiter. Jupiter and Uranus will reach conjunction on June 7th.

Neptune

Neptune is observable in the morning hours of May. At the start of May, Neptune rises around 2:55 am (PDT) and by the end of the month, Neptune rises around 12:50 am (PDT).  Neptune is located in the constellation Capricornus (The Sea Goat) until August.

Neptune and Moon
On May 7th the waning, crescent Moon passes less than 3°30’ from Neptune.

Pluto

Pluto is located in the constellation Sagittarius (The Archer) until the year 2023.  Pluto can be observed in the mid-night to morning hours of May.  Pluto rises around 12:25 am (PDT) at the start of May and by the end of the month, Pluto rises as early as 9:20 pm (PDT).

Pluto and Moon
The waning, gibbous Moon passes less than 6° of Pluto on May 2nd.

January 2010

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Lunar Events

The New Moon for January occurs on Thursday, January 14th which will make the weekend on January 16-17 the best weekend for dark sky observing.

On January 29th is the Full Snow or Hunger Moon.

On January 14th, there will be an Annular Solar Eclipse.  Unfortunately it is only visible from East Africa, the Indian Ocean, Southern India and Southeast Asia.

Solar Eclipse

An Eclipse occurs when one astronomical object moves into the shadow of another. The two types of eclipses of most interest to Earthlings, are Solar Eclipses when the Moon’s shadow is cast across the seurface of the Earth, and Lunar Eclipses where the Earth’s shadow is cast onto the Moon. Lunar and Solar Eclipses usually occur two weeks from each other. Solar Eclpse always occur during a New Moon and Lunar Eclipses always occur during a Full Moon.

Celestial Events

The Perihelion of Earth occurs on January 2nd.

Perihelion

The Perihelion is the point in Earth’s elliptical orbit that it is closest to the Sun.  This is the opposite point to the Aphelion when the Earth is at its furthest point to the Sun, which occurs in June.

Mercury

Mercury is located in the constellation Sagittarius (The Archer) all month, but will not be observable until January 9th when it emerges from the glare of the morning Sun.  Around January 15th, Mercury halts its retrograde and reaches its Greatest Western Elongation on January 26th and at that time will be 24°45’09” from the Sun, for best morning views.

Mercury Elongation Elongations occur when the planet position in its orbital path is at tangent to the view from Earth. Because these inner planets are inside the Earth’s orbit, their positions as viewed from the Earth are never very far from the position of the Sun. When a planet is at Elongation is it furthest from the Sun as viewed from Earth, so it’s view is best at that point. There are two kinds of Elongations: The Eastern Elongation occurs when the planet is in the evening sky and the Western Elongation Occurs when a planet is in the morning sky.

Mercury, Pluto and the Moon
On January 13th, Mercury will pass within 2°50’ of the former planet Pluto and less than 6° of the waning, crescent moon.

Venus

The planet Venus is not observable this month as it passes in proximity to the Sun as it moves from morning to evening hours.

Venus begins the month in the constellation Sagittarius (The Archer) and moves to the constellation Capricornus (The Sea Goat) on January 18th.

Mars

Mars is in fantastic position for observation for the next few months due to the fact that Mars reaches Opposition on January 29th

Mars is observable all night, all month; Rising around 8:45 pm (PST) at the start of January and rising around 5:50 pm (PST) by the end of the month.  Mars can be found in the constellation Leo (The Lion) at the start of the month and on January 9th, Mars moves to the constellation Cancer (The Crab).

Mars Opposition

For planets outside the Earth’s orbit (Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto), the months around Oppositions are the best time to view these. An Opposition occurs when the planet is opposite from the Sun relative to the Earth. At Opposition the planet will rise as the Sun sets and will set as the Sun rises providing an entire night of observation. Also at Opposition the planet comes physically closest to the Earth in it’s orbit so it appears as large as possible.

Mars and Moon
On January 2nd, the Waning, gibbous Moon passes within 6°37’ of Mars.

Mars at Opposition and Full Moon
On January 29th, when Mars is at opposition, the Full Moon passes within 6°21’ of Mars.

Jupiter

Jupiter can be observed in the evening hours on January. At the start or the month Jupiter sets around 9:25 pm (PST) and by the end of the month it sets around 8:00 pm (PST).  Jupiter is located at the start of January in the constellation Capricornus (The Sea Goat), and on January 5th, moves into the constellation Aquarius (The Water Bearer).

Jupiter and Moon
On January 17th a Waxing, crescent moon rises within 4°10’ of Jupiter.

Saturn

Saturn is observable from the mid-night hours until morning in the constellation Virgo (The Maiden).  Saturn rises around 12:30 am (PST) at the start of January and rises around 10:25 pm (PST) at the end of the month.

Saturn and Moon
On January 6th the waning, gibbous moon passes within 8° of Saturn.

Uranus

The planet Uranus is observable in the evening in January.  Uranus sets around 11:30 pm (PST) at the beginning of January and by the end is setting around 9:40 pm (PST).  Uranus will move out of the constellation Aquarius (The Water Bearer) and into the constellation Pisces (The Fish) on January 14thUranus will remain in Pisces until May, 2012.

Uranus and Moon
On January 19th, Uranus will set within 5°30’ of the waning, crescent moon.

Neptune

Neptune is located in the constellation Capricornus (The Sea Goat) until March 2010.  Neptune is observable in the evening hours of January until the end of the month when it will disappear into the glare of the sunset.  Neptune sets at the start of January around 9:15 pm (PST) and by the end is setting around 7:25 pm (PST).

Pluto

Pluto is located in the constellation Sagittarius (The Archer) until the year 2023.  Pluto emerges in the morning hours after January 8th; rising around 7:15 am (PST) at the start of the month and rising around 5:20 am (PST) at the end.

Pluto and M2ercury and Moon
January 14th finds Pluto within 2°45’ of the planet Mercury.


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