Watch this cool animation from ShadowandSubstance.com.
It's not a total eclipse, but it's the next best thing. On Sunday, Feb. 26th, the Moon will pass in front of the southern hemisphere sun, covering as much as 99% of the solar disk. Astronomers call this an "annular" solar eclipse. Observers in parts of South America and Africa will be able to witness a magnificent "ring of fire" in the sky as crescent-shaped sunbeams dance on the ground below.
Watch this cool animation from ShadowandSubstance.com.
There's a lunar eclipse tonight, Feb. 10th, when the Moon spends almost 4 hours skimming through the shadow of Earth. If you've seen a lunar eclipse before, you might be expecting the Moon to turn red--the color of our planet's inner shadow. But no. The eclipsed Moon will look more like this:
Matt Wastell of Brisbane, Australia, took this picture during a similar lunar eclipse in April 2005. Earth's shadow darkens the upper left quadrant of the Moon, producing a gradient of luminosity across the lunar disk. Overall, the Moon remains silvery gray.
Tonight's eclipse is "penumbral." In other words, the Moon will pass through the pale outskirts of our planets shadow (the penumbra) rather than directly through its red core (the umbra). Graphic artist Larry Koehn has created an excellent animation of the event.
The best time to look is Friday night around 07:44 p.m. Eastern Time (00:44 UT Saturday). That's the time of maximum coverage when Earth's shadow creates a clear gradient of light and shadow across the lunar disk. Check out this global visibility map to see if you are in the eclipse zone:
According to folklore, a full Moon in February is called the "Snow Moon." For northerners, it often feels like the brightest Moon of the year as moonlight glistens off the white landscape. For a while on Friday night, the Snow Moon won't seem quite so bright.
If you think tonight's full Moon seems a bit bigger and brighter than usual, you're right. It's a "perigee Moon," about 14% bigger and 30% brighter than lesser full Moons we've seen earlier this year. The Moon's orbit is an ellipse with one side (perigee) about 50,000 km closer than the other (apogee): diagram. Perigee moons--a.k.a. "supermoons"--are not unusual.
This is the third month in a row we've had one. [photo gallery]
Today's full Moon is the biggest and brightest in almost 70 years. The best time to look in North America is before sunrise on Monday morning, while in Europe the best time is after sunset on the same day."The last time we had such a close full Moon was January 26, 1948," says Geoff Chester of the US Naval Observatory, "and it won't happen again until November 25, 2034."
The waxing supermoon, photographed by Charles Chiofar of Buckley WA on Nov. 12th.
Full moons vary in size because the Moon's orbit is not a circle, it's an ellipse: diagram. One side of the Moon's orbit, called "perigee," is 50,000 km closer to Earth than the other side, "apogee." This Monday's "supermoon" becomes full about 2 hours away from perigee, a coincidence that makes it as much as 14% bigger and 30% brighter than lesser moons we have seen in the past.
But will we be able to tell the difference ... just by looking? A 30% difference in brightness can easily be masked by clouds or the glare of urban lights. Also, there are no rulers floating in the sky to measure lunar diameters. Hanging high overhead with no reference points to provide a sense of scale, one full Moon looks much like any other.
"I think that the hype over the term 'supermoon' is a bit overblown," says Chester. "In my book every full Moon has something to offer!"
To get the most out of Monday's apparition, try to catch the Moon just as it is rising or setting. This will activate the Moon Illusion and make the perigee Moon of Nov. 14th look super, indeed.
There's a full Moon this weekend. That means it's time to be alert for moonbows. Ian Glendinning spotted this one arcing over a lightning bolt in Northumberland UK:
"The moonbow framed the lightning nicely--a rare and beautiful coincidence," says Glendinning.
Everyone knows what lightning is. But a moonbow? It's the same as a rainbow with the Moon playing the role of Sun. Raindrops falling in the Northumberland night caught the rays of the waxing full Moon and spread them into a fan of prismatic color.
Glendinning's exposure revealed something even more rare: a secondary moonbow. It's the faint 'bow arciing above the brighter primary. Primary rainbows are caused by single reflections inside raindrops; secondary bows are caused by double reflections. Watch for them both this weekend.
According to folklore, tonight's full Moon is the Harvest Moon. For many observers, the usual luster of the silver orb will be dimmed by a spooky shadow. It's a "penumbral lunar eclipse."
The animation below, created by graphic artist Larry Koehn, shows the eclipse unfolding for nearly 4 hours on Sept 16th:
A penumbral eclipse happens when the Moon passes through the pale outskirts of Earth's shadow. It is much less dramatic than a "blood moon" total lunar eclipse. In fact, when observers are not alerted beforehand, they often do not realize an eclipse is underway. Nevertheless, the subtle shadow of Earth is visible to the naked eye if you know it's there.
The eclipse will be visible everywhere except the Americas:
When the sun goes down tonight, step outside and look up. There's a celestial triangle in the southern sky: the waxing full Moon, red Mars, and golden Saturn. Try to catch them before the sky fades completely black. The Moon and planets surrounded by twilight blue look extra-beautiful. [sky map]
Last night, for the first time in decades, the full Moon fell on the June solstice. Jeff Burkes of Chester County, Pennsylvania, watched the Moon herald the change of seasons, like so:
"It was an amazing sight to see," says Burkes. "And the filtering action of the clouds added a strawberry hue to the rising orb."
According to folklore, this was the Strawberry Moon. It gets its name from June-bearing strawberry plants, which have a short harvest season that begins about now.
Brian Lada : Accuweather : 18 May 2016
Astronomers and stargazers are in for a treat this upcoming weekend with two big celestial events taking place; a full 'Blue Moon' and the opposition of Mars.
May's Full Moon goes by several names, including the Full Flower Moon, the Full Corn Planting Moon and the Milk Moon. But this year, it will also go by the title of a Blue Moon. A Blue Moon typically occurs once every few years (hence the term 'once in a Blue Moon') and is commonly the name of the second full moon in a calendar month. However, this weekend's Blue Moon gained its name a different way.
Normally, there are only three full moons in each season, but occasionally there is a season with four full moons. When this happens, like this spring, the third of the four full moons earns the name of a Blue Moon. Despite their name, blue moons are not actually the color blue and will appear their typical color. The next 'traditional' Blue Moon does not occur until January 31, 2018.
One day after the full moon, Mars will reach opposition, meaning that that Earth will be passing directly between Mars and the sun. When this happens, Mars will be extremely bright, making it a great time for astronomers to observe the planet.
© EarthSky/Mikhail Chubarets
Mars will be one of the brightest objects in the sky on Sunday night after the Moon and will be visible from dusk to dawn.
According to EarthSky, by the time Mars reaches opposition, it will have quadrupled in brightness since the beginning of April. Additionally, it will shine nearly 80 times brighter than it does when the planet is at its faintest. Even if clouds block your view of Mars on Sunday night, it should remain bright for several weeks before it slowly and steadily becomes faint.
About a week after opposition, Mars will make its closest approach to Earth in over 10 years. At a distance of 46.8 million miles (75.3 million km), this will be the closest the Red Planet has been to our planet since 2003!
Although this is the closest the planets have been in years, it does not mean that Mars will be significantly larger in the night sky as some social media hoaxes might suggest. While it is true that Mars does give off a red glow in the night sky, you will not be able to see the planet like you would the Moon
There's a full Moon tonight, Monday Feb. 22nd. According to folklore, it has a special name--the "Snow Moon." On average, February is the snowiest month in the USA. Full moonlight reflecting from a snow-covered landscape can make the night very bright, indeed. Bonus: On Tuesday, Feb. 23rd, the waning Snow Moon will be in conjunction with Jupiter--a beautiful close encounter: sky map. www.spaceweather.com
The Great Naked-Eye Planet Show of 2016 is reaching its peak. For the next week, the five brightest planets in the solar system can be seen, all at once, in a great line stretched across the pre-dawn sky. Denis Crute photographed the quintet on Feb. 2nd just before daybreak at Woolgoolga, Australia:
Crute took the picture using a Nikon D5200 digital camera set to ISO 3200 (f3.5) for a 2 sec exposure. Other photographers may wish to note those settings, because there are some excellent photo-ops in the mornings ahead. On Feb. 3rd, the Moon will pass by Saturn in the constellation Virgo: sky map. On Feb. 6th and 7th, the slender crescent Moon will form a lovely shape-shifting triangle with Venus and Mercury: sky map.
Set your alarm for dawn. There's a lot to see. www.spaceweather.com
Brooks Hays : UPI : 12 Dec 2015
The last time a full moon rose on Christmas, the Bee Gees were on the radio and Saturday Night Fever was in the theaters.
A full moon rises every 29.53 days. That makes the chances of a full moon landing on a special day -- like your birthday, or Christmas -- rather slim.
But 2015 is a lucky year. For the first time in 38 years, Christmas Day will host a full moon. Christmas won't get another full moon until 2034.
A NASA spokesperson told ABC News the full moon will peak at just after six in the morning, Eastern Standard Time. According to the Farmer's Almanac, the last full moon in the month of December is called the "Cold Moon" or the "Big Moon."
The last time a full moon rose on Christmas, it was December 25, 1977 -- the Bee Gees were on the radio and Saturday Night Fever was in the theaters. J.R.R. Tolkien was a best-selling author, but none of his books had been made into movies yet.
Almost a decade prior to the last Christmas-borne full moon, a trio of NASA astronauts spent the holidays orbiting the moon -- the first time man orbited a body other than Earth.
In a live broadcast beamed back from Apollo 8, astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders read from the Bible's Book of Genesis as images of Earth flashed across the screen.
"We were told that on Christmas Eve we would have the largest audience that had ever listened to a human voice," Borman said in 2008, on the 40th anniversary of the feat. "And the only instructions that we got from NASA was to do something appropriate."
"The first ten verses of Genesis is the foundation of many of the world's religions, not just the Christian religion," explained Lovell. "There are more people in other religions than the Christian religion around the world, and so this would be appropriate to that and so that's how it came to pass."
Pluto's moon Charon is so large that some astronomers have called the Pluto-Charon pair a "double-planet system." Indeed, images now arriving from the New Horizons spacecraft prove Charon to be just as interesting as Pluto itself. For example, there is a canyon system stretching more than 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) across the entire face of Charon and likely around onto Charon's far side. Four times as long as the Grand Canyon, and twice as deep in places, these faults and canyons indicate a titanic geological upheaval in Charon's past.
"It looks like the entire crust of Charon has been split open," says John Spencer, a member of the New Horizons Science Team from the Southwest Research Institute. "With respect to its size relative to Charon, this feature is much like the vast Valles Marineris canyon system on Mars."
The pictures also show plains south of the Charon's canyon with fewer large craters than regions to the north. This means the southern plains are younger. The smoothness of the plains, as well as their grooves and faint ridges, are clear signs of wide-scale resurfacing.
On Sunday night, Sept. 27th, the supermoon passed through the shadow of Earth, producing a total lunar eclipse visible from the Americas, Europe, Africa and parts of Asia. "It was one of the darkest lunar eclipses I have ever seen," reports Kevin R. Witman, who sends this picture from Cochranville, Pennsylvania:
Other observers (see the gallery) also remarked on the darker hue of this lunar eclipse, compared to others in recent years. What caused the change? Atmospheric scientist Richard Keen of the University of Colorado offers one reason: "Supermoon eclipses should be a bit darker. Because of its closeness to Earth, a supermoon passes deeper into the shadow of our planet."
Working independently, Steve Albers of NOAA and Helio Vital of REA/Brazil have suggested another reason: aerosols in the atmosphere. "Earth's stratosphere is no longer completely clean of volcanic ashes," says Vital. "In fact, lingering aerosols from the explosion of Calbuco, five months ago, may be to blame for that excessive darkening."
Calbuco is a volcano in Chile. After it erupted in April 2015, colorful sunsets were observed around the southern hemisphere for months. Recently, Albers has noted an increase in purple and yellow sunsets around his home town, Boulder CO, and elsewhere. These are telltale colors of volcanic exhaust. "A thin veneer of aerosols from Calbuco may have now spread to the northern hemisphere," Albers says. "In addition, we could be seeing the effects of residual smoke from forest fires at high altitudes, or the general increase in sulfate pollution that has been documented on a global basis."
Richard Keen, who is a leading expert on volcanic aerosols and lunar eclipses, says "the Sept. 27th eclipse was about 0.5 magnitudes darker than expected for a clear stratosphere. A slight layer of aerosols in the upper troposphere/lower stratosphere might explain this. Also, the Moon passed through the southern part of Earth's shadow, so southern hemisphere aerosols (such as those produced by Calbuco) would have greater effect." www.spaceweather.com
This weekend's full Moon is a "supermoon," as much as 50,000 km closer to Earth than other full Moons of the year. Rising in the east at sunset, the swollen disk will look extremely beautiful... because it is going to be eclipsed. On Sunday evening, Sept. 27th, the supermoon will pass through the shadow of Earth, turning the lunar disk a cosmic shade of red. Click here to view an animation of the eclipse and to find out when to look:
What makes the eclipsed Moon turn red? A quick trip to the Moon provides the answer: Imagine yourself standing on a dusty lunar plain looking up at the sky. Overhead hangs Earth, nightside down, completely hiding the sun behind it. The eclipse is underway.
You might expect Earth seen in this way to be utterly dark, but it's not. The rim of the planet looks like it is on fire. As you scan your eye around Earth's circumference, you're seeing every sunrise and every sunset in the world, all of them, all at once. This incredible light beams into the heart of Earth's shadow, filling it with a coppery glow and transforming the Moon into a great red orb.
Red isn't the only color. Sharp-eyed observers might also spot some turquoise, shown here in a photo taken by Jens Hackman during an eclipse in March of 2007:
Its source is ozone. Atmospheric scientist Richard Keen of the University of Colorado explains: "During a lunar eclipse, most of the light illuminating the moon passes through the stratosphere where it is reddened by scattering. However, light passing through the upper stratosphere penetrates the ozone layer, which absorbs red light and actually makes the passing light ray bluer." This can be seen, he says, as a soft blue fringe around the red core of Earth's shadow.
To catch the turquoise on Sept. 27-28, he advises, "look during the first and last minutes of totality. The turquoise rim is best seen in binoculars or a small telescope."
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