July Moon at Descending Node #2

   Friday July 31st the 11-day old 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 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 the day of the node crossing the waning gibbous Moon will be a few degrees from the outer planet Jupiter and few more degrees from Saturn.

   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)

   
   
   
   
   

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July Moon at Descending Node

   Friday July 3rd the 11-day old waxing gibbous Moon crosses 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 date of the descending node the waxing gibbous Moon will be over the southern horizon around local time for sunset. Look for the Moon to be about 9-10o from the heart of Scorpius the Scorpion, the reddish star Antares.

   
   
   
   
   

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Penumbral Lunar Eclipse

penumbral-eclipse-ani   At 17:45 UT (12:45 am CDT) Friday June 5th the full Moon will start passing through the Earth’s shadow setting up the condition for a lunar eclipse. Approximately 24 hours later the just past full Moon will be at its descending node, the orbital point where the Moon’s inclined orbit crosses, or intersects the Earth’s orbit.
   This penumbral lunar eclipse will not be visible from North and South America.
   Click here to go to the Hermit Eclipse web site for an interactive map showing where this eclipse will occur.

   
   
   
   

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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June Moon at Descending Node

   Saturday June 6th the 14.7-day old waning gibbous Moon crosses 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 date of the descending node the waning gibbous Moon will be just getting ready to set about an hour or so before sunrise. To the east are three of the visible planets, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars. Dwarf Planet Ceres, and Neptune are also part of the line-up along the ecliptic, but both have apparent magnitudes too dim to be naked-eye visible.

   
   
   
   
   

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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May Moon at Descending Node

   Sunday May 10th the 17-day old waning gibbous Moon crosses 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 date of the descending node the waning gibbous Moon will be above the southern horizon at sunrise and will be near the western edge of the Milky Way. However the Moon’s reflected sunlight dims out the glow of the Milky Way. To the east are 4 of the visible planets, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars. Dwarf Planet Ceres, and Neptune are also part of the line-up along the ecliptic, but both have apparent magnitudes too dim to be naked-eye visible.

   
   
   
   
   

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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April Moon at Descending Node

   Monday April 13th the 20-day old waning gibbous Moon crosses 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 date of the descending node the waning gibbous Moon will be above the southern horizon at sunrise and will be near the eastern edge of the Milky Way. However the Moon’s reflected light dims out the glow of the Milky Way. To the east are 4 of the visible planets, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, and just rising above the horizon the innermost planet Mercury. Dwarf Planet Ceres, and Neptune are also part of the ecliptic line-up but both have apparent magnitudes too dim to be naked-eye visible.

   For this orbit the waning gibbous Moon has also reached its southernmost distance south from the celestial equator of 23.8o.

   
   
   
   
   

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March Moon at Descending Node

   Monday March 16th the last quarter Moon crosses 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 date of the descending node the 22-day old last quarter Moon will be about mid-way across the Milky Way, although with the brightness of the Moon the glow of the Milky Way will not be visible.

   This part of the Milky Way has many beautiful deep sky objects like the two diffuse nebula, M-20 and M-8, currently within a 7×50 binocular field of view including the Moon. But unfortunately not visible until the Moon with its reflected light moves further east.

   
   
   
   
   

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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February Moon at Descending Node


   Wednesday morning February 19th the waning crescent Moon crosses 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 date of the descending node the 26-day old thin waning crescent Moon will be about 1-2o to the west from the outer ringed planet Jupiter. Both rise within an hour of local time for sunrise.

   
   
   
   
   

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January Moon at Descending Node


   Wednesday morning January 22nd the waning crescent Moon crosses 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 date of the descending node the 27-day old thin waning crescent Moon will be about 4o to the west from the outer ringed planet Jupiter. Both rise within an hour of local time for sunrise.

   
   
   
   
   

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December Moon at Descending Node and an Eclipse

   Thursday December 26th the Moon, at new Moon phase, crosses 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.
   What happens when the Moon is at new phase and is also at a node crossing? You get an eclipse of the Sun, which in this instance will be an Annular Solar Eclipse. This is a solar eclipse however the Moon is far enough from the Earth that it appears to be smaller than the Sun. So, unlike with a Solar Eclipse where at mid-eclipse the Moon’s disk covers the Sun’s disk, during mid-annularity the Moon’s disk does not completely cover the disk of the Sun but instead leaves a ‘ring of fire’ known as the annulus around the Sun.

This eclipse will be visible from Saudi Arabia to south of the Philippine Islands.

Note: The picture I used for the banner is of the 2011 Annular Eclipse and it is from the NASA Hinode satellite. Also at the NASA web page the link takes you to is a video of the Annular Solar Eclipse as seen from the satellite in Earth orbit.


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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