Thursday evening September 5th the 6.6-day old first quarter Moon will be about midway between the outer ‘giant’ ringed planet Jupiter, and Ceres, as well as near the reddish Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion. This interesting grouping will not quite fit within a 7o binocular field of view but nonetheless will be a striking grouping. And for the record, Ceres is the closest dwarf planet to Earth.
Our Moon reaches apogee, (greatest distance from Earth), for this orbit, on Saturday August 17th. At that time the Moon will be at a distance of 31.84 Earth diameters 251,954 miles (405,480 km) 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*
*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?”
Monday evening August 5th the 5-day old waxing crescent Moon will be within about 5-6o from the blue-white star Spica over the southwestern horizon. Both will set shortly before midnight local time.
Spica is part of the constellation Virgo the Harvest Maiden and represents a bundle of grasses, perhaps wheat, in her left hand.
Tuesday July 16th the 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 full Moon will be passing through the Earth’s shadow giving the part of the world where the Moon will be visible a 65% partial lunar eclipse. This will be a penumbral lunar eclipse during which the Moon passes through the fainter outer Earth’s shadow, the penumbra. However the Moon will be passing deeply into the penumbral shadow giving viewers an relatively dark penumbral eclipse lasting more than 2 hours.
The full Moon rises shortly before midnight July 16th and is about 6-7o to the east from the ringed planet Saturn. The graphic shows how far the Moon has moved from the Earth’s shadow since the end of the Eclipse.
So where will the eclipse be visible? Not from the U.S. of A. The table below shows eclipse times in UT and a quick conversion to my time zone, U.S.A. Central Daylight Time (CDT=UT-5) shows the eclipse begins at 1:43 pm CDT, maximum is at 4:30 pm CDT, and eclipse ends at 7:17 pm CDT – all times are before the Moon rises for my time zone as well as the rest of North America.
Penumbral eclipse begins: 18:43:53 UT
Partial eclipse begins: 20:01:43 UT
Maximum eclipse: 21:30:43 UT
Partial eclipse ends: 22:59:39 UT
Penumbral eclipse ends: 00:17:36 on 17 Jul UT
Wednesday June 19th the 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 17.0-day old waning gibbous Moon will be over the southern horizon and will be about 13-14o to the east from the ringed planet Saturn.
Over the next several evenings (June 14th through the 16th) the Moon, as it waxes through its gibbous phase, will pass by the Dwarf Planet Ceres and the outer giant planet Jupiter. The Moon will be about 5-6o from Ceres as it passes from the west side to the east side of the Dwarf Planet. Then it will be about 5-6o from Jupiter as it moves from the west side to the east side of the Jupiter.
Wednesday May 22nd the 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 17.5-day old waning gibbous Moon will be 5-7o to the west from the ringed planet Saturn. The following day, May 23rd, the 18.5-day old waning gibbous Moon will have orbited to the east side of Saturn passing within 5-6o.
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.
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