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.

Moon / Saturn Conjunction and Jupiter Pauses Briefly

   Friday June 9th one of the outer planets, Jupiter, becomes stationary in its retrograde westward orbital motion around the Sun. It will now begin moving in direct motion, its orbital direction around the Sun toward the east – as we view it from the Earth. Jupiter’s retrograde motion is something that occurs to varying amounts as the Earth passes by each outer planet.
   This animated graphic is set to show the motion of Jupiter from early May through the end of June. At the start the graphic shows where Jupiter is relative to the star Spica, and then it zooms in to make the retrograde loop for Jupiter easier to see.
   The Earth passing by an outer planet is a result of the Earth having a faster orbital speed, and as the angles between Earth and an outer planet change there is the appearance of the outer planet slowing down and stopping its regular eastward motion. Then for a time ranging from a week or so to several months the outer planet appears to be moving backward or toward the west. After a time the planet resumes its eastward motion.

   On Friday the 9th the just past full Moon, a 15-day old waning gibbous Moon, will be rising about an hour after local time for sunset. Between 2-3o to the right, or west, from the Moon is the planet Saturn as this graphic shows.

   
   
   

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.

June Moon at Apogee


   Our Moon reaches apogee, (greatest distance from Earth), on Thursday June 8th. At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 31.85 Earth diameters (406,401 km or 252,526 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*

*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?”


   On the day of the apogee Moon the 14-day old full Moon rises around local time for sunset and is 9-10o degrees from the reddish star Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion.

   
   
   

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 Near Jupiter and Spica


   Monday evening April 10th the full Moon will be about 3o from Jupiter and about 5o from the blue-white star Spica in Virgo the Harvest Maiden as the trio rises in the 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.

February Moon at Ascending Node, a Penumbral Lunar Eclipse, and a Comet!

11feb-ascending-node   Saturday February 11th 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.
   When a node crossing happens near the time of a full or new Moon there is a chance for an eclipse. The closer the two times are to each other the more centered the Moon will be with respect to the Sun for a total eclipse, or more centered such that the Moon passes through the inner and darker umbral shadow.
   That is the situation for this weekend with full Moon at 0:33 UT Saturday January 11th (6:30 pm CST Friday January 10th), and the node crossing at 19:50 UT (1:50 pm CST) Saturday. This time, due to the nearly 20 hour difference the Moon’s orbital path will take it across the Earth’s fainter outer, the penumbra. A penumbral lunar eclipse is not that easily noticeable because the bright reflected light from the Moon is not dimmed that much as the Moon passes through the penumbra.

   Click here to go to the Hermit Eclipse web site for more information about this eclipse.

   Adding to the viewing there is a good chance Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova, aka the “Green Comet”, will be bright enough to be seen with binoculars over the next several evenings. On the 11th the comet will be at its closest to the Earth and may be brighter than 4th magnitude. Unfortunately the Moon’s reflected light will brighten the sky making it that much more challenging to see the comet. Click here to read an article about the comet at the EarthSky web site.

   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.

Full Moon – Spoiler Alert!

   Wednesday December 14th the Moon will be at its full phase and while pleasing to observe the reflected light from the Moon plus any local light pollution spoils the night sky as either one or both brightens the night sky making it difficult to impossible to see much of anything except the very brightest of celestial objects. What this brighter sky means in terms of December 14th is that the nearby open star cluster M-35 will not be seen, nor will the Geminids Meteor Shower with a radiant near the Moon and which peaks on the 14th.
   
   
   

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.

November Perigee, and Full Moon

14nov-perigee_moon   The Moon reaches perigee, (minimum distance from Earth), this month on Monday November 14th. At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 27.95 Earth diameters (356,509 km or 221,524 miles) from the Earth.
   The Moon reaches perigee Monday at 11:30 UT (5:30 am CST) and this is about 2 hours before it will be at full Moon phase at 13:52 UT, (7:52 am CST November 14th). Since the full Moon is this close to its closest to the Earth for this orbit the full Moon could be considered one of the ‘Super Moons’ this year. In fact this is the closest one for this year and according to records the closest full Moon in the past 30 years.
full-moons2016-ani
   This animated graphic shows the full Moons of 2016. Are you able to see a difference in the sizes?

   Read more about the idea of a super Moon or super mini-Moon in a previous posting.

   Does our Moon actually go around the Earth as the first 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?”

   On the day of the lunar perigee the full Moon rises at around sunset local time and is setting at sunrise the following morning.

   
   
   

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.