February Perigee Moon

19feb-perigee-moon    Our Moon orbits around the Sun with the Earth and from our perspective on the Earth the Moon appears to circle around the Earth, however in reality the Moon orbits the Sun together with the Earth*.
   The 1.02-day old thin waxing crescent Moon reaches perigee this month on Thursday February 19th at 07:24 UT (01:24 am CST). At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 27.9 Earth diameters (356,994 km or 221,826 miles) from the Earth.

Adding to the evening viewing will be the planets Venus and Mars above the southwestern horizon. Friday evening, the 20th, the very thin waxing crescent Moon will be within 1-2o from Venus and Mars. Close enough such that all three will fit within the field of view binoculars.

waxing-crescent-moom   This could be one of those opportunities to see a very young Moon, not a record youngest but nonetheless, worth trying to see. The record for a naked-eye sighting of the youngest waxing crescent Moon is 15 hours and 32 minutes, and with an optical aid 11 hours and 40 minutes.

   On the side, so to speak, use binoculars or a low-power eyepiece and look at the unlit edge and along the cusps to see some of the higher peaks sparkling in sunset while their lower parts are still in shadow. Because of the low angle of the Sun relative to the Moon the higher portions of crater rims and lunar mountains are in sunlight while their respective lower portions are still in shadow. The peaks look like they are not connected to the Moon as you can see in the lower left of this picture of a 2-3 day old waxing crescent Moon.

   *Click here to read my 2006 Scope on the Sky column “The Real Shape of the Moon’s Orbit”. (PDF)

Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

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