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.

   
   
   
   

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July Moon at Descending Node and a Partial Lunar Eclipse

   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

   
   
   
   
   

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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July Full Moon at Apogee, Descending Node, A Lunar Eclipse, and Conjunction with Mars

Apogee Moon
   Our Moon reaches apogee, (greatest distance from Earth), on Friday July 27nd. At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 31.84 Earth diameters (406,223 km or 252,415. 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?”

Descending Node
   Friday July 27th the full 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.

Total Lunar Eclipse
   When the Moon crosses the ecliptic, a node crossing, and the Moon is either at full or new phase there will be an eclipse. The length of the eclipse and whether or not it will be partial or total depends upon the timing. The closer the two events are to each other the greater the eclipse. This total lunar eclipse will be a long one at nearly 2 hours for totality. However the eclipse will not be visible from North America.
   Get eclipse information from the Hermit Eclipse web site.
   Watch the Lunar Eclipse live. Webcast hosted by the Bareket Observatory in Israel. Webcast starts at 18:30 UTC (1:30 pm CDT).

Conjunction
   On the day of the apogee and descending node the full Moon will be over the southern horizon and within about 6-7o from the planet Mars.

   
   
   

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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Lunar Eclipse – January 31 2018

Here are two pictures from the rising Moon last evening.

   
   And this morning got a late start out the door – made a mistake and let the dogs out in front (north side) while I looked to see where the Moon was. Then chased the ‘guys’ for a while until they peed and sniffed enough and got them back inside.
Drove out east to our community park for a better horizon. Had planned on using 3 cameras but then applied the KISS or Occam’s Razor logic and set up one camera. In reality I had about 30 minutes prior to totality and only a couple of minutes as you see in the video near totality. The clouds were too thick near the horizon.
   This is a sequence taken at 300mm with several exposure times, f-stop and ISO changes along the way.

   
   
   

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.

April 17 Moon at Descending Node

apr17-descending-node   Friday April 17th at 13:06 UT, (8:13 am CDT), our 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.
   The Moon reaches new phase more than 24 hours after it makes the node crossing. Had this been closer to the time of the node crossing we could have had an lunar eclipse. This was the situation last month for the total lunar eclipse.

   
   
   
Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

April Moon at Ascending Node

apr4-ascending-node
   On Saturday April 4th at 03:19 UT (Friday April 3rd at 9:19 pm CST) our Moon will be crossing the plane of the ecliptic moving north. This is known as the ascending node, one of two intersections the Moon’s orbital path (dark green line) has with the ecliptic. The ecliptic is 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.


   The Moon rises Friday April 3rd at around the local time for sunrise and the Moon becomes full phase at 12:06 UT (6:06 am CST) on Saturday April 4th. With a combination of full Moon and a node crossing at about the same time the result is a lunar eclipse. For most of the continental United States the eclipse will be in progress Saturday morning while the Moon is over the south to western horizon. Unfortunately the timing for the eclipse stages is close to the time of moonset and sunrise. This means that the best viewing for the partial and total parts of the eclipse will be to the western side of the United States. Basically the further west that your longitude is will mean that the eclipse will take place higher above the horizon, resulting in seeing most if not all of the eclipse..
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Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

Full Moon at Descending Node = Lunar Eclipse

8oct-descending-node   In the hours before local sunrise time or moonset time on October 8th the full Moon, at its descending node, passes through the Earth’s shadow for a total eclipse of our Moon. Beginning at approximately 3:15 am CDT the Moon enters the fainter outer penumbral shadow but the eclipse will not really be noticeable until about an hour later as the Moon starts moving into the darker inner umbral shadow. Then for about the next hour the Moon grows darker and perhaps takes on a reddish color as it traverses the umbral shadow. The total stage of the eclipse comes to an end as the leading edge of the Moon leaves the umbral shadow.

Eclipse Animation from Wikipedia

   This particular lunar eclipse will be seen across most of the United States with the western half in a more favorable viewing loaction as the time for sunrise is around the time that the Moon exits the umbral shadow.
   To determine how much of the eclipse will be visible from your location check for your local time of sunrise and then compare that with the times for the various stages during the lunar eclipse. From my location in the mid-west of the United States, (94oW), the Sun rises at approximately 7:10 am CDT with the totality stage of the eclipse will just have ended as the sky brightens with the Sun rising in the east.
A Blood Moon
lunar-eclipse14apr   During a total lunar eclipse the Moon turns a reddish color that historically has been called a “Blood Moon”. The reddish color, according to some, is caused by all of the sunsets and sunrises on the Earth. So how can that be and where does the reddish color come from? In reality sunlight, as it passes through the Earth’s atmosphere, is scattered with the shorter wavelengths of sunlight (toward the blue side) scattered the most. This leaves the longer wavelengths of sunlight (toward the red side) to pass on to the Moon thus giving the Moon its reddish color. Interestingly from the Moon with the Earth eclipsing the Sun there would be a reddish glow surrounding the Earth – in effect like seeing sunrise and sunset at the same time.

Eclipse Stage	                      Time (CDT)	Time (UT)
Penumbral Eclipse Begins	       3:15 am	         8:15 
Enter Umbra (Partial Eclipse Begins)   4:14 am	         9:14
Total Eclipse Begins	               5:25 am 	        10:25
Mid-Eclipse	                       5:54 am	        10:54
Total Eclipse Ends	               6:34 am	        11:34
Exit Umbra (Partial Eclipse Ends)      7:34 am	        12:34
Penumbral Eclipse Ends	               8:33 am	        13:33

   
   
   
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Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

Asteroids at Opposition

vesta-ceres-ani   Vesta, aka 4 Vesta, the third largest of the asteroids within the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter reaches opposition Sunday 13 April. Two days later, 15 April, the closest Dwarf Planet to Earth, the former asteroid Ceres also reaches its opposition. Opposition is an arrangement with any outer planet or asteroid that is further from the Sun than the Earth. At opposition the Earth is between, in this case, either Vesta or Ceres, and the Sun. At opposition, like the full Moon, a planet or asteroid rises at sunset and is above the horizon all night and then sets at sunrise.

   Ceres, with an average diameter of 590 miles (950 km), as an asteroid was the largest and now as a dwarf planet is among the smallest if not the smallest object with enough mass to become round and thus qualify for a lateral promotion to dwarf planet status. Vesta has an average diameter of 525 km (326 miles ) and was the fourth asteroid discovered, in 1807. Vesta was also just recently visited and explored from orbit by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft. That spacecraft left orbit around Vesta in September 2012 and it is now heading for arrival at Ceres during the spring (northern hemisphere) of 2015. Vesta is also the brightest asteroid as seen from Earth and so the next few weeks offer an opportunity to perhaps see this asteroid and Ceres as they both move into and then past opposition and then moving in retrograde, westward.

Vesta and Ceres 10 April to 30 April.

Vesta and Ceres 10 April to 30 April.

   This animated graphic shows the westward motion of Vesta and Ceres as the two pass by several stars, some of which have a magnitude around Vetsa’s 5.39 and Ceres’s 6.5.

   Neither Ceres nor Vesta move fast enough to see any change in their position relative to any nearby ‘reference’ stars for at least a day or so. See if you can catch a ‘star’ changing its position relative to other stars by drawing a star chart of the stars you see in the field of view of your binoculars or telescope eyepiece. Repeat the drawing the next night, or wait another night. Do this a few times and by comparing your drawings you may find one of the dots you made for stars has shifted its position. That is the asteroid. Congratulations!

The Moon at 2 am CDT

The Moon at 2 am CDT

   Throughout this period the Moon will change from its waxing gibbous phase, pass through the Earth’s shadow for a total lunar eclipse, then begin its waning gibbous phases all the while passing past the asteroids Vesta, Ceres, Mars, Saturn, and a bunch of other celestial delights.

   
   
Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

Eclipse and the Nodes

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   The solar eclipse on Sunday 3 November, will have been brought to us by the nodes. No the nodes are not a scientific nor a musical group, but rather the nodes represent an intersection between the orbital path of our Moon, or another planet, with the Earth’s orbital path, the plane of the ecliptic. There are two nodes or intersections, the ascending node and the descending node. There are two nodes because the planets as well as our Moon do not orbit the Sun on the same level, or plane as does the Earth. Their respective orbits are inclined (tilted) away from the plane of the ecliptic by varying amounts such that they will at times appear below or above the plane of the ecliptic. There will be two times each orbit around the Sun where the planet or our Moon will be on the plane of the ecliptic as it crosses moving from below setting up the ascending node or from above toward below, setting up the descending node.

Eclipse animation

Eclipse Animation

   So what is the significance of the nodes? The significance is all about timing. If the time of the new Moon phase, for example, occurs at or near the time for a node crossing then there will be a solar eclipse. Remember that at this moment the Moon is on the plane of the ecliptic and is more or less directly between the Earth and the Sun. More importantly, if the times are exact or very close there will be either a total solar eclipse or an annular solar eclipse. On 3 November the new Moon phase is 12:48 UT 6:48 am CST) and is at its ascending node nearly 6 hours earlier at 6:55 UT (12:55 am CST). The Moon makes first contact with the Sun at 10:04 UT (4:04 am CST); maximum eclipse, mid-eclipse, is at 12:46 UT (6:46 am CST); and the eclipse officially ends with last contact at 14:27 UT (8:47 am CST).
    To sort of complete this story, if there is a solar eclipse, no matter how total or less than total, there will be a lunar eclipse two weeks away at full Moon phase. Eclipses occur in pairs so this pair started with the penumbral lunar eclipse last month at full Moon on 18 October.
Moon Grazing the Earth's Shadow

Moon Grazing the Earth’s Shadow

Since that occurred about 26 hours before the Moon was at its descending node the angle the Moon followed through the Earth’s shadows only had it ‘graze’ the less noticeable outer penumbral shadow. Unless you knew about it you would have not noticed a slight dimming of the reflected moonlight. And, because the Moon’s orbital path is inclined, this lunar eclipse which was at descending node means that the 3 November solar eclipse will be at its ascending node – which it will be.

   Mercury is also in the picture because it too is at its ascending node and just a few days ago Mercury was at inferior conjunction. Had these two, ascending node and inferior conjunction, coincided we would have had a transit of the Sun by Mercury.
   
   
   
telescope
   
Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

Penumbral Lunar Eclipse

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   This Friday, 18 October, the full Moon will pass through the outer and fainter part of the Earth’s shadow in what is known as a Penumbral Lunar Eclipse. This is not a total eclipse where the whole Moon passes through the Earth’s shadow, nor is this eclipse one that will darken the Moon as if the Moon had passed through the darker umbral shadow. However about 3/4’s of the Moon will be within the penumbra and so around the time of mid-eclipse the Moon should be less bright enough (dimmer but not darker if that makes any sense) for an observer to notice the eclipse.
Mid-Eclipse

Mid-Eclipse

   The timing for the eclipse will be such that for all of Africa and most of western Europe the full Moon will have already risen before the eclipse begins. From North and South America the eclipse will start before the Moon rises. From my location at 94oW, in the Midwest United States, the Moon will be at mid-eclipse shortly after the Moon rises as these two graphics show.

Eclipse Starts:
21:50 UT (4:50 pm CDT)
Mid-Eclipse:
23:50 UT (6:50 pm CDT)
Eclipse Ends:
01:50 UT (8:50 pm CDT)

Click here for additional information about this penumbral lunar eclipse from the NASA eclipses web site.As of this morning this NASA web site, and all other NASA as well as U.S. government web sites are again available.

   
   
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.