A Lunar ‘4-fer’ Plus Planets: Perigee; Ascending Node; Blue Moon; and a Total Lunar Eclipse!!

   Our Moon reaches full phase for the second time this month on Wednesday January 31st at 13:27 UT (7:27 am CST). According to the popular definition for a ‘Blue Moon’ the second full Moon in a month is known as the ‘Blue Moon’. This happens about every 2.5 years with this year being a little more different in that there will be a second Blue Moon month in March.

   Our Moon reaches perigee, (closest distance from Earth), for this orbit on Wednesday January 30st at 9:48 UT (3:38 am CST). At that time the Moon will be at a distance of 28.14 Earth diameters (358,994 km or 221,204 miles) from the Earth.

      On Wednesday January 31st 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.
      
   What do you get when you have the full Moon at a node crossing? An eclipse – in this case a total lunar eclipse. Timing for this eclipse favors viewing from the western half of the continental United States. Here is a link to download a lunar eclipse page information page (PDF) from the NASA eclipse web site
   Mid-eclipse has the darkened Moon a few degrees away from the open star cluster, M-44, commonly known as the Beehive Cluster. Both the Moon and tM-44 will fit within the field of view of binoculars.
   Here is a summary of the eclipse event starting times from the NASA Eclipse web site. My local time, CST, is UT-6 hours. An important time will be local sunrise-moonset time. For me local sunrise and Moon set time is 7:26 am CST meaning that totality will be in progress as the Moon sets. Here is a link to the Sun and Moon Data calculator web page at the U.S.N. Observatory so you may determine your local sunrise/moon set time. Here is a link to the Hermit Eclipse web site for more information about the eclipse and an interactive map showing eclipse event particulars.
P1 = 10:51 UT 4:51 CST
U1 = 11:48 UT 11:48 CST
U2 = 12:51:47 UT 6:51 CST
U3 = 14:07:51 UT 8:07 CST
U4 = 15:11:11 UT 9:11 CST
P4 = 16:08:27 UT 10:08 CST

   As the eclipsed Moon is setting in the west turn toward the south and east to see Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn plus the bright stars Spica and Antares.

   
   
   
   
   
   

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.

January Super Full Moon at Perigee


   Our Moon reaches perigee, (closest distance from Earth), for this orbit on Monday January 1st. At that time the Moon will be at a distance of 27.98 Earth diameters (356,600 km or 221,581 miles) from the Earth making this full Moon the year’s Super Moon.
   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*


   On the day of the perigee Moon the full Moon is above the eastern horizon about 1 hour after sunset local time. The Moon is located near the feet of the Gemini Twins.

   *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 go to bobs-spaces.

November Moon at Perigee


   Our Moon reaches perigee, (closest distance from Earth), for this orbit on Monday November 6th. At that time the Moon will be at a distance of 28.33 Earth diameters (361,438 km or 224,587 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*


   On the day of the perigee Moon the 18-day old waning gibbous Moon is above the eastern horizon around 10:30 pm local time. The Moon is located just west of Orion’s club and Orion appears to be swinging his club as if it were a baseball bat toward the Moon.

   *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 go to bobs-spaces.

August Perigee Moon

Our Moon reaches perigee, (closest distance to Earth), for this orbit on Friday August 18th. At that time the Moon will be at a distance of 28.70 Earth diameters (366,121 km or 227,497 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*

   On the day of the perigee Moon the 26-day old thin waning crescent Moon is above the eastern horizon about 30 minutes to an hour before the Sun rises. The inner planet Venus (-3.97 apparent magnitude) is within about 9o from the Moon while the Dwarf Planet Ceres, at an apparent 8th magnitude is too dim to be visible to the naked eye, is about 8o from the Moon.

   *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 go to bobs-spaces.

March Moon at Perigee #2


   The Moon reaches perigee for the second time, (minimum distance from Earth), this month on Thursday March 30th. At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 28.5 Earth diameters (363,853 km or 226,088 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*
   On the day of the perigee Moon the 3-day old waxing crescent Moon is over the western horizon at sunset local time, above to the left from Mars, and Mars sets a few hours after the Sun sets.

   *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 go to bobs-spaces.

February Perigee Moon

6feb-perigee_moon   The Moon reaches perigee, (minimum distance from Earth), this month on Monday February 6th. At that time the Moon will more or less be at a distance of 28.91 Earth diameters (368,816 km or 229,172 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*

   On the day of the perigee Moon 13-day old nearly full Moon rises just before sunset local time and is located near the feet of the Gemini Twins.
   These two animated graphics show the sky as viewed from Quito Ecuador at 0o latitude, and my home latitude of approximately 40o North. They show the sky at one day intervals starting with February 1st and ending with February 5th.


   
   
   *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 go 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.