August Moon at Ascending Node – and Oh Yeah, A Total Solar Eclipse!

   Monday August 21st the new 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.

   On August 21st the new Moon will be crossing the plane of the ecliptic at 10:34 UT (5:34 am CDT) within the constellation Leo the Lion. 8 hours later, at 18:30 UT (1:30 pm CDT), the Moon will reach new phase. This close timing between the new Moon phase and a node crossing means only one thing – eclipse!!

   My eclipse viewing area will be at an Elementary School in the North Kansas City School District. From that location totality will be approximately 80 seconds. This short video showing totality for 80 seconds, was clipped and edited from a video shot during the November 2012 total solar eclipse viewed from Australia.

   Read a bit more about this eclipse from a previous post.

      Does our Moon actually go around the Earth as many graphics show? 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 return to bobs-spaces.

August Perigee Moon

Our Moon reaches perigee, (closest distance to Earth), for this orbit on Friday August 18th. At that time the Moon will be at a distance of 28.70 Earth diameters (366,121 km or 227,497 miles) from the Earth.
   Does our Moon actually go around the Earth as this 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*

   On the day of the perigee Moon the 26-day old thin waning crescent Moon is above the eastern horizon about 30 minutes to an hour before the Sun rises. The inner planet Venus (-3.97 apparent magnitude) is within about 9o from the Moon while the Dwarf Planet Ceres, at an apparent 8th magnitude is too dim to be visible to the naked eye, is about 8o from the Moon.

   *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.

Taurus Head-Butts the Moon


   Wednesday morning August 16th the 24-day old waning crescent Moon is within 2-3o from the reddish star Aldebaran and the rest of the stars of the open star cluster the Hyades, forming the v-shaped face of Taurus the Bull.

   
   
   With 10×50 binoculars the Hyades and the Moon will all fit within the field of view as this graphic is showing.

   
   
   

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.

Triangulating with the Moon

   Tuesday morning, August 15th the 23-day old first quarter Moon will be the point of a celestial triangle with the two open star clusters, the Pleiades, and the Hyades as this graphic shows. The v-shaped Hyades forms the face of Taurus the Bull while the ‘dipper-shaped’ Pleiades lies along the Bull’s shoulder. Both open star clusters are about 8o from the Moon.

   
   
   

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.

The Moon and Uranus – They Are Not the Same Thing!

   Ok, so how can you Moon Uranus? Yeah I know – a sad, and bad joke. Let’s put it behind us.
   Sunday morning, August 13th, the 21-day old waning gibbous Moon rises within a few degrees from the planet Uranus. Both are within the eastern fish of the constellation Pisces the Fishes. Uranus ‘shines’ at just under 6th magnitude so it is possible to see the 7th main planet from the Sun with binoculars. However the reflected light from the Moon will brighten the sky more than enough to drown out the dimmer light from Uranus and most other stars in the area making them not visible.
   Not that it will be visible but near the Moon on the opposite side from Uranus is one of the dwarf planets, Eris. However at nearly 19th magnitude and almost 95.729 AU, (8,898,566,474 miles ; 14,320,854,563 km) from the Earth it is all but impossible to see without some serious amateur equipment, at an observatory, or with the Hubble Telescope. Add approximately an additional 1 AU (93,000,000 miles; 1,496,68992,000 km) to get its distance from the Sun.
   What did I say about enough of the ‘bad jokes’? This cartoon reminded me of the statement, “Captain, We’re orbiting Uranus searching for Klingons.”

   
   
   
   
   
   Speaking of Uranus here is a portion of the Orbits performance video showing Uranus and some of its moons.

   
   
   

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.

August Moon at Descending Node

   Tuesday August 8th the just past full Moon, a waning gibbous 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 17-day old waning gibbous Moon will be over the east-southeast horizon an hour or so after sunset local time. The Moon will be about 10o from the outermost, (8th), planet Neptune.
   
   
   
   

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.

Full Moon – Partial Lunar Eclipse


   Monday August 7th the full Moon, just one day before it will be at descending node, passes through the Earth’s outer shadow and briefly crosses through part of the darker inner shadow, the umbra. This sets up a partial lunar eclipse.
   The Earth has two distinct shadows, an inner and much darker umbra, and the outer and fainter penumbra as this NASA graphic shows.
   This eclipse will not be visible across the continental United States.

    For additional information about this or other eclipses go to the Hermit Eclipse web site.

   
   
   

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.