The sky scene, May 30 evening

The evening sky is still almost uninhabited by planets.

There’s only Mars, low on the horizon, slowly losing its race with the Sun, behind which it will be on July 27.

But the Moon comes through on its monthly journey.  Yesterday, just over four days old, it took a route three degrees south of the Beehive or Praesepe star cluster.  Tomorrow it will pass much closer to Regulus – but that will be in daytime for America and Europe, and the occultation – the hiding of the star by the Moon – will be a sight for eastern Africa.  Moving on, the Moon will in the middle of June 1 be at First Quarter, 90° in longitude from the Sun.

Don’t forget that a map of any large part of the sky ought really to be on a curved surface, the inside of a sphere.  The Sun, below the horizon, is 90° from the point we’ve marked as the “antapex of the Earth’s way.”  The antapex is the present direction from which our planet is whirling in its orbit around the Sun.

So you could mime the three-dimensional situation by pointing your right hand straight forward at the Sun, and your left hand straight leftward at the antapex.  (Imagine stretching our map around leftward.)  Then point your third arm (what, you’ve got only two?) straight rightward, and that’s the direction Earth is traveling.



11 thoughts on “The sky scene, May 30 evening”

  1. I’m curious why you say the evening sky is almost uninhabited by planets. Jupiter is up in excellent view in the evening.

    By the way, I’m hoping to watch the waxing quarter Moon occult Rho Leonis tomorrow evening, May 31. According to my planetarium software, the fourth-magnitude star under the belly of the lion will disappear behind the Moon’s dark limb at 2109 PDT, and reappear from behind the bright limb at 2225. There will still be bright twilight during the disappearance, but Rho should be visible through binoculars, and an occultation of a bright star by the Moon’s dark limb is quite dramatic. People a bit farther east of San Francisco can watch the occultation in a darker sky. Of course here on the Pacific coast, the greatest hindrance is likely to be fog and low clouds. Fingers crossed.

    I’ve mainly thought of Rho Leo as a convenient waypoint for star-hopping to the M95 galaxy group, but I just learned that Rho is quite an impressive star. A pulsating blue-white supergiant, 2600 light years distant, 4 times hotter than the Sun, 22 times the Sun’s diameter and 23 times the Sun’s mass, with a total luminosity 100,000 brighter than the Sun.

    1. The sky was a beautiful clear blue yesterday afternoon, with a strong gusty breeze. Shortly before sunset the clouds and fog started rolling in, and I thought the occultation would itself be occulted — clouds in front of the Moon in front of a huge distant star.

      But, mirabile dictu, there were unusual breaks in the clouds and fog and I was able to watch the Earth-lit dark limb of the Moon creep up on Rho Leonis through mounted 15×70 binoculars and varying densities of thin clouds. Rho was invisible to the naked eye but brilliant through the binoculars, and the last few minutes before the occultation were quite suspenseful. The moment of occultation was surprisingly abrupt — the star was there one moment and gone the next.

      The moment of reappearance was completely clouded over, so I didn’t have to keep vigil for a dim point of light emerging from somewhere on the much brighter limb of the Moon.

    2. My guess is that Guy doesn’t include the eastern quadrature at sunset as part of the evening sky.

  2. OMG, did you miss me? my puter’s been down some, but you say Beehive??? There’s a hollowed out sassafrass tree in my neighborhood with a very active bee colony. They’re have some rough times these days with fungi and mites and stuff. It’s good to see such a healty active colony. Maybe they’ll swarm soo and I can take a new colony up to my roof.

  3. as I forwarded this page to some of my friends, I ‘d just like to remind us all that only three more lunar cycles away form a grand eclipse crossing the US of A. I’m driving south to Carolina’s or wherever else ths sikies are clear. Is lFurman University a pl,ace to stay? I remember my first total eclipse in ’70, a school libraray in Washington state let us chasers sleep in their halls. I was hooked long before that. but that’s another story

    1. Jack, if you drive down Interstate 95 headed for South Carolina, stop in Fredericksburg VA and remind me to head down there too! We could have a two-vehicle caravan LOL. I would think that the weather prospects in South Carolina would be best up in the foothills area near Furman that time of year (I mean better than along the coast or the coastal plain).

      1. The following site–I may have learned about it from Guy–discusses the weather all along the path and includes a cloudgraph: Actually the historical average least cloud cover on 21 August in SC is at the coast. I’m staying in Charleston and heading toward the center of the path of totality, possibly heading inland, depending on the forecast. I’m meeting friends in SC, some of whom I haven’t seen in nearly 40 years, so even if the eclipse is a washout, it will be a reunion of sorts.

        1. Howard, thanks very much for that post and the link! Having grown up in Virginia and being stationed at various Army posts in the Carolinas and Georgia, I am conditioned to think “heat, humidity and haze” for the coastal plains in the summer, but the statistics cited in the article are eye-opening! Maybe I’ll aim for the coast or Lake Santee instead.

  4. Coincidence. I keep track of personal coincidences and publish some of them in Phactum, the newsletter of the Philadelphia Association for Critical Thinking (PhACT). I know enough events can occur so that it’s probable some very improbable events will occur, so I attach no psychic or mystical meaning to these things, but they’re interesting anyway.

    I maintain a list of of ideas for enterprises and inventions, and email it to myself. I was in the process of adding my previously expressed idea of a dome-shaped computer screen with a planetarium program, when I saw I had just received an email, though I didn’t know what it was until I clicked “send”, whereupon I saw the two new emails listed, yours and mine, in both of which is the inside-of-a-sphere idea.

    1. inside a sphere and outside of the box. God’s name is Howard. My brother sent me an email explaining to me that his name is Andy,,, Andy walks with me,, but I’m reminded of the Lord’s prayer. Our Father who are in heaven, Howard be thy hame….Clousdy here in NY so not much stargazing tonite, but the clouds and rain are good for the gardens. Saw some amazing meteors at the beginning of this mon, Eta Aquarids. leaving long thick trails, a few others from some other direction. Getting psyched for the eclipse in August. Wishin you all clear skies….later….

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