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Earthsky Tonight—May 24: Bright star near moon is Spica
Posted By Gary Wamsley On May 24, 2010 @ 9:58 am In Earth & Sky | Comments Disabled
Courtesy of EarthSky
A Clear Voice for Science
 The waxing gibbous moon  glides past the star Spica  in the constellation Virgo this evening. It passes relatively close to Spica for a day or two each month that Spica is visible in our night sky. It does the same with other bright stars such as Regulus  in the constellation Leo, Antares  in the constellation Scorpius and Aldebaran  in the constellation Taurus.
Have you ever heard of the moon near Polaris the North Star ? If someone tells you they saw the moon near Polaris, you will know that cannot be so. The moon has a set path in the sky, approximately the same path as that followed by the sun each day. Polaris is far to the north on the sky’s dome, in a part of the sky the moon never visits.
In reality, the moon’s nearness to Spica tonight is just a line-of-sight illusion. The moon never gets close to Spica in a true sense because the moon is only about one light-second from Earth, while Spica is 260 light-years  away.
Spica is the 15th or 16th brightest star in the sky (as it is neck-and-neck with Antares). It is a close double star, and both stars in the Spica system are much hotter and brighter than our sun. In fact, there is some evidence that there are as many as three smaller, fainter stars in the Spica system.
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CHANDRA Photo Album 
StarDate Online 
Sky and Telescope 
National Geographic 
Space Com 
Amazing Space 
Scope City 
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URLs in this post:
 www.EarthSky.org: http://www.EarthSky.org
 Image: http://www.berthoudrecorder.com/2010/05/24/earthsky-tonight%e2%80%94may-24-bright-star-near-moon-is-spica/phase-3/
 Image: http://www.berthoudrecorder.com/2010/05/24/earthsky-tonight%e2%80%94may-24-bright-star-near-moon-is-spica/10may24_4301/
 waxing gibbous moon: http://earthsky.org/tonightpost/moon-phases/waxing-gibbous
 Spica: http://earthsky.org/tonightpost/brightest-stars/speed-on-to-spica-the-15th-brightest-star
 Regulus: http://earthsky.org/es-tonight/first-quarter-moon-or-half-moon-near-regulus-and-mars
 Antares: http://earthsky.org/tonighthome/2010-05-27/url
 Aldebaran: http://earthsky.org/tonightpost/brightest-stars/aldebaran-is-taurus-bloodshot-eye
 Polaris the North Star: http://earthsky.org/tonightpost/brightest-stars/polaris-the-present-day-north-star
 light-years: http://earthsky.org/tonightpost/astronomy-essentials/how-far-is-a-light-year
 Astronomy Picture of the Day from NASA/JPL: http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/
 CHANDRA Photo Album: http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/
 U.S. Naval Observator Astronomical Information cente: http://www.usno.navy.mil/USNO/astronomical-applications/astronomical-information-center/astronomical-information-center
 StarDate Online: http://stardate.org/
 Sky and Telescope: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/ataglance/
 National Geographic: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/
 Space Com: http://www.space.com/nightsky/
 Amazing Space: http://amazing-space.stsci.edu/tonights_sky/
 The York County Astronomical Society: http://www.ycas.org/tonights_sky.htm
 Scope City: http://www.scopecity.net/
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