2017 August Moon at Ascending Node and A Total Solar Eclipse

15may-ascending-node    On 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.

   Because of the Moon’s orbital inclination the new Moon phase and the full Moon phase can occur when the Moon is anywhere above or below the ecliptic. However at least 4 times each year the Moon is at either of these two phases at or about the same time as a node crossing. The closer the timing is for the two events the more likely there will be a solar and a lunar eclipse about two weeks apart.
   This is the situation for August 21st when many people living in the U.S.A. will experience a solar eclipse. And if you are anywhere along the path of totality then you will be seeing a total solar eclipse. During the eclipse, at mid-totality, the stars of Leo the Lion should become visible with he star Regulus very near the Moon and Sun. Additionally, off to the east is Jupiter, while on either side are the planets Mercury (east or left side) and Mars (west or the right side) and further west is Venus.
    This map showing the path of totality across Missouri comes from one of the best web sites for information about viewing this eclipse: the Great American Eclipse web site.
   Additional Resources:
NASA Total Solar Eclipse web site
NASA Total Solar Eclipse Google Maps web site
NASA Eyes 2017 Solar Eclipse
All American Total Solar Eclipse Viewing Guide (8-page PDF)
Eclipse 2017.org
Museum Alliance: Total Solar Eclipse 2017 NASA Resources for Informal Education
NASA Night Sky Network: Eclipse Resources


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