Lunar Eclipse – January 31 2018

Here are two pictures from the rising Moon last evening.

   
   And this morning got a late start out the door – made a mistake and let the dogs out in front (north side) while I looked to see where the Moon was. Then chased the ‘guys’ for a while until they peed and sniffed enough and got them back inside.
Drove out east to our community park for a better horizon. Had planned on using 3 cameras but then applied the KISS or Occam’s Razor logic and set up one camera. In reality I had about 30 minutes prior to totality and only a couple of minutes as you see in the video near totality. The clouds were too thick near the horizon.
   This is a sequence taken at 300mm with several exposure times, f-stop and ISO changes along the way.

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Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.

Moon – Regulus Conjunction


   Thursday morning February 1st the waning gibbous Moon will be in conjunction with the star Regulus in Leo the Lion. Depending on your location the two will be anywhere from around 1o to at least 5.5o as is the separation from my location.


   And while outside remember to turn toward the south and east to see Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn stretched out above the horizon. The brighter stars, Spica in Virgo the Harvest Maiden and Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion are also arranged along the same ‘line’ as the three planets.

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.

Mars Opposite Uranus

   Tuesday January 30th Mars and Uranus will reached their respective orbital positions that have them 180o apart. Mars will be located at approximately 207.6o and Uranus at approximately 27.6o of heliocentric longitude. This called heliocentric opposition.
   Interestingly at their last heliocentric opposition, February 26th 2016, Mars was located at approximately 200.0o and Uranus at approximately 20.0o of heliocentric longitude.
   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.

A Lunar ‘4-fer’ Plus Planets: Perigee; Ascending Node; Blue Moon; and a Total Lunar Eclipse!!

   Our Moon reaches full phase for the second time this month on Wednesday January 31st at 13:27 UT (7:27 am CST). According to the popular definition for a ‘Blue Moon’ the second full Moon in a month is known as the ‘Blue Moon’. This happens about every 2.5 years with this year being a little more different in that there will be a second Blue Moon month in March.

   Our Moon reaches perigee, (closest distance from Earth), for this orbit on Wednesday January 30st at 9:48 UT (3:38 am CST). At that time the Moon will be at a distance of 28.14 Earth diameters (358,994 km or 221,204 miles) from the Earth.

      On Wednesday January 31st the full Moon will be crossing the plane of the ecliptic moving north relative to the ecliptic. This is known as the ascending node, one of two intersections the Moon’s orbital path has with the ecliptic. The ecliptic is actually the Earth’s orbit and the Moon’s orbit is inclined about 6o from the ecliptic. So there are two node intersections, the ascending and descending nodes.
      
   What do you get when you have the full Moon at a node crossing? An eclipse – in this case a total lunar eclipse. Timing for this eclipse favors viewing from the western half of the continental United States. Here is a link to download a lunar eclipse page information page (PDF) from the NASA eclipse web site
   Mid-eclipse has the darkened Moon a few degrees away from the open star cluster, M-44, commonly known as the Beehive Cluster. Both the Moon and tM-44 will fit within the field of view of binoculars.
   Here is a summary of the eclipse event starting times from the NASA Eclipse web site. My local time, CST, is UT-6 hours. An important time will be local sunrise-moonset time. For me local sunrise and Moon set time is 7:26 am CST meaning that totality will be in progress as the Moon sets. Here is a link to the Sun and Moon Data calculator web page at the U.S.N. Observatory so you may determine your local sunrise/moon set time. Here is a link to the Hermit Eclipse web site for more information about the eclipse and an interactive map showing eclipse event particulars.
P1 = 10:51 UT 4:51 CST
U1 = 11:48 UT 11:48 CST
U2 = 12:51:47 UT 6:51 CST
U3 = 14:07:51 UT 8:07 CST
U4 = 15:11:11 UT 9:11 CST
P4 = 16:08:27 UT 10:08 CST

   As the eclipsed Moon is setting in the west turn toward the south and east to see Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn plus the bright stars Spica and Antares.

   
   
   
   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.

A Disco Ball In Orbit!

   The Humanity Star satellite was launched from New Zealand earlier this month and has an orbital life expectancy of around 9 months – (spoiler alert!!) meaning it’s coming back down!
   The satellite is a 1-meter diameter geodesic dome shape made of highly reflective materials. While in orbit the Humanity Star will spin and reflect enough sunlight making it bright enough to be seen which means this could prove to be perhaps as fun as tracking ISS and Hubble. Right now the satellite is only visible from latitudes greater than 46 degrees north or south but the orbit will gradually change making it visible from all latitudes.
   The web site has an interactive tracking map.
      “The Humanity Star was created by Rocket Lab Founder and CEO Peter Beck. It was born of the desire to encourage people to consider their place in the universe and reflect on what’s important in their own lives and the lives of humanity as a species.”
http://www.thehumanitystar.com/

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.

Go Fish!


   Monday evening January 22nd the 6-day old waxing crescent Moon will be in transit between two members of the ‘water-world’ part of our skies. The constellations Cetus the Whale and Pisces the Fishes will be the hosts for the Moon for the next few days. This animated graphic starts with Monday and is set to 1-day intervals ending on the 26th.

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.

Sun Enters Capricorn – Not Aquarius

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   Friday January 19th at 20 UT the Sun in its apparent eastward motion along the ecliptic enters the boundaries of the constellation Capricorn the Sea Goat. This is the actual location of the Sun.
   Interestingly, according to the pseudoscience of astrology, 7 hours later, at 3 UT Saturday January 21st, the Sun should be entering the constellation of Aquarius the Water Bearer.

   
   
   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.

January Moon at Descending Moon


   Thursday January 18th the waxing crescent Moon will be crossing the plane of the ecliptic moving south. This is known as the descending node, one of two intersections the Moon’s orbital path (dark green line) has with the ecliptic.
    
   
     

   On the day of the node crossing the 2-day old thin waxing crescent Moon will be over the southwestern horizon an hour or so after sunset local time.
   
   
   
   
      

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to go to bobs-spaces.

January Waning Crescent Moon at Most Distant Apogee, and in Conjunction with Mercury and Saturn

   Our Moon reaches apogee, (greatest distance from Earth), on Monday January 15th. At that time the waning crescent Moon will more or less be at a distance of 31.86 Earth diameters (406,464 km or 252,587 miles) from the Earth. This is the greatest distance between the Earth and our Moon for this year. The next most distant apogee occurs during July when the full Moon will be at an apogee distance of 31.84 Earth diameters (406,223 km or 252,415 miles).

   On the day of the apogee the 28-day old and very thin waning crescent Moon rises between Mercury and Saturn. However only about 2% of the Moon’s disk will be showing and moonrise is only about one-half hour before sunrise so the Moon may be a challenge to see.

   Does our Moon actually go around the Earth as the graphic shows? 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*

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

Read this very informative article about the Earth-Moon system and their orbital motions, written by Joe Hanson. “Do We Orbit the Moon?”

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to go to bobs-spaces.

Moon-Jupiter-Mars Conjunction

   Thursday morning January 11th the 24-day old waning crescent Moon will be a few degrees away from the outer planets Jupiter and Mars. Also becoming visible over the eastern horizon are the planets Mercury and Saturn – as this graphic shows.

   The conjunction between the Moon, Jupiter, and Mars will be close enough so that all three will fit within the field of view of binoculars.

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.