Tonight’s Full Moon could be hard to miss. Remarkably, its exact full phase (May 6 03:36 UT) will occur less than two minutes after it reaches perigee, the closest point to Earth in the Moon’s orbit, making it the largest Full Moon of 2012. The Full Perigee Moon will appear to be some 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than a Full Moon near apogee, the most distant point in the elliptical lunar orbit. In comparison, though, it will appear less than 1 percent larger and almost as bright as April’s Full Moon. Of course, if you miss May’s Full Perigee Moon, make a note on your calendar. Your next chance to see a Full Moon close to perigee, will be next year on June 23.
What is Perigee?
What is Apogee?
Effect on tides
The combined effect of the Sun and Moon on the Earth’s oceans, the tide, is greatest when the Moon is either new or full. At lunar perigee the tidal force is even stronger, resulting in larger high and low tides on average, but even at its most powerful this force is still weak.
Alors, avez vous pigee? or otherwise watch out for the next coming lecture titled Free Lecture 04: Moon Phases and Eclipses
Eyes on the Sky: Apr 16 thru Apr 22
Catch a couple crescents and eyeing Orion
Late waning and early waxing (i.e., very thin) crescent Moons are beautiful sights, but can be tough to spot and see. Eyes on the Sky will show you where to look in the early morning this week to see the slender waning crescent Moon in the eastern sky, then where to look again as the Moon reappears in the evening western sky.
Orion is fading into the southwestern evening sky, but still remains high enough while it is dark to spot some interesting double stars spotted with binoculars or with a small telescope. Don’t miss the 3-D “zoom in” perspective of Orion’s belt stars, which all appear to be in a line and of equal distance – check out the surprising result of zooming in! And lastly, with the “Mayan calendar” hype occurring, learn a bit about what the Maya saw in this part of the sky too.
- Eyes on the Sky: Apr 9 thru Apr 15 (heavenswithlamps.wordpress.com)
- Eyes on the Sky: Apr 2 thru Apr 8 (heavenswithlamps.wordpress.com)
- Astronomy outreach for dummies (heavenswithlamps.wordpress.com)
- Constellations : Origins and now (heavenswithlamps.wordpress.com)
- My first Observation (heavenswithlamps.wordpress.com)
There is so much blabbering about Conjunctions nowadays in the astronomy field that I thought my contribution should be there too. During mid-march 2012 you would hear about the Jupiter Venus conjunction, then at the end of the month came the Moon, Jupiter and Venus conjunction. And nowadays Venus and Pleiades conjunction are making the headlines. (Hope I’ll be posting on these conjunctions) But I am here today with my moon parachute conjunction.
A few days back I went biking after a long pause. But I didn’t even think that I would get this exquisite view of this “conjunction”. After a ride you just want to take a pause, but if you see something remarkable, you just forget the tire-some ride. I had to fumble around quickly for my mobile to take these shots.
What seemed peculiar about these parachutes (there were two) were that they were motor driven. I don’t even know what they are called ? Motorized Parachutes? Or What?
And where was this?
These photos could be considered as the worst in pixels, but personally I liked them. I am not a photographer, neither an amateur photographer , but I think I do aspire to do some amateur nature photopraghy and astrophotography later. ( Hope this realizes in the future.)
However, I would always invite any positive criticism to do better.
- My Favorite Images Of March 2012 (wernerpriller.wordpress.com)
Eyes on the Sky: Apr 2 thru Apr 8
The planet-spectacular, “Planet-acular”!
There are four (count ’em, four) naked eye planets visible in the evening sky this week, and three of them are near some interesting types of stars. See Jupiter and Venus in the early evening and Mars and Saturn nearly all night long. A couple of these planets are joined by the Moon, the planets themselves contrast nicely with some spectral class “B” stars, and now is the time to get a jump on the necessary equipment for solar viewing, with the Transit of Venus approaching in early June. There’s good reason to starting thinking about appropriate solar equipment now. AND… the Moon offers up some “shadowy” treats of it’s own – and many of these sights can be seen in very small telescopes or (sometimes better) with binoculars. So get outside this coming week and see what’s up!
Eyes on the Sky: Feb 27 thru Mar 4
The Moon occasionally occults – or covers – stars and/or planets from our point of view, on it’s journey around the Earth. This week, on the night of the 1st into the morning of the 2nd, observers in northern sections of North America over towards Greenland may be able to spot this event. If you are not sure if you will be able to see it, download the software Stellarium and input your location and local time. For some, the Moon may have set by the time the occultation occurs; for those that can see the Moon and star but not the Moon covering it, watch how fast the Moon moves by the star through a telescope, if possible.
Also this week: Mars reaches opposition on the 3rd, and will get smaller as the Earth revolves faster around the Sun. Nearby to the Red Planet are several brighter Messier galaxies in Leo the Lion, worth checking out in medium or larger telescopes. Also discussed: Where to spot Venus, Jupiter, Mercury and Saturn this week.
Eyes on the Sky: Mar 5 thru Mar 11
Jupiter and Venus snuggle up
This week, the two brightest planets in the night sky, Jupiter and Venus, get closer each day until they reach conjunction early next week. Watch this planetary pile-up over the next few days, and later in the week, spot both planets in the same field of view with binoculars. As an added bonus, the speedy Mercury reaches it’s highest point above the horizon early in the week, making it an easy spot below the two brighter planets at evening twilight.
Also this week: The Moon moves by Mars early in the week, and sidles up to Saturn by Saturday; look for this to occur around midnight towards the south. See the video for details.
Eyes on the Sky: March 12 thru March 18
Mars crashes the Messier party
The galaxies M95, M96 and M105 in Leo are far enough away from bright, easy-to-find stars that they can be a bit of a challenge to find. But this week, Mars literally passes right through their midst, and at magnitude -1 (brighter than most every star in the sky), it makes it a cinch to find them. Also, Jupiter and Venus are dancing past each other in the western, evening sky, unmistakably bright in some dimmer constellations. Look a bit towards the north though, and spot the constellation Perseus, with it’s treasure trove of open clusters visible in binoculars and small telescopes. And last but not least, Saturn has easily cleared the horizon well before midnight, so not is an ideal time to set your sights on the ringed planet.
Eyes on the Sky: March 19 thru March 25
Venturing through the Virgo galaxy cluster / catching a comet
The Virgo galaxy cluster is a “must-see” area of sky for any amateur astronomer looking to conduct a Messier marathon, which are popular to attempt around this time of year. “Eyes on the Sky” points towards the “jump off point” to find several of these galaxies. Swinging northward, Comet Garradd is still slowly making its way through our solar system, cruising past the pointer stars of the Big Dipper this week. It is an easier target in a small, wide-field telescope, but can be spotted with binoculars in moderately light polluted areas with careful scanning. Download and print this star chart from Sky and Telescope magazine to help you find the comet this week.
The star charts mentioned in the video:
Eyes on the Sky: March 26 thru April 1
Venus near Nymphs / Spotlighting the “Leaps”
Though the conjunction of Venus and Jupiter is several weeks past, there will still plenty of fantastic views to in the western and southwestern evening sky this week thanks to those planets, the Moon and some nearby stars and open clusters. And looking towards the north, an oft-overlooked section of the Big Bear gets some attention this week, offering up some interesting insights into stellar evolution, colors and distance as the “Leaps” lead to luminous lights in the sky.
Eyes on the Sky: Jan 30 thru Feb 5
Wandering the Winter Circle
Find the 6, easy to spot, naked eye stars of the Winter Circle (or Winter Hexagon), as well as Collinder 70 and Messier 41 within that area. A tour of several bright stars in the area includes close-ups of each star to get a sense of their relative size, and later the ecliptic is examined thanks to the alignment of Venus, Jupiter and the Moon.
Eyes on the Sky: Feb 6 thru Feb 12
Find Uranus via Venus
Uranus is a 5.9 magnitude object in the sky; barely visible naked eye from very dark locations, and visible with binoculars from most light polluted areas. So how to find it among the other 5th, 6th and 7th magnitude objects in the area? Use a brighter object to guide the way! On our journey around the Sun, the other planets’ positions change relative to our own, and this week, we see Venus “passing by” Uranus in the night sky. As many amateurs have never even seen Uranus through optical instruments, this is a great week to try and spot our solar system’s 7th planet. Download the PDF chart here (4.1 MB) to help you spot Uranus this week.
Also in the sky: Mars and the Moon make a magnificent pair in the sky this week, and as Mars is close to opposition, now is a good time to view not only the Red Planet, but some Messier galaxies that are nearby as well – thought it is better to spot them in a week or so, after the Moon has revolved further east in the sky.
Chart 10 : LEO, CANCER, SEXTANS, HYDRA
Eyes on the Sky: Feb 13 thru Feb 19
Measuring light pollution
The Globe at Night initiative enlists the help of amateur astronomers everywhere across the globe to submit what the sky looks like in their area with respect to how light pollution affects their visible sky. This week’s video focuses on that effort, and explains how to easily find the constellations used by Globe at Night as well as how to submit observations quickly and easily.
To learn more about this effort and to submit your observations, visit www.globeatnight.org.
Chart 10 : LEO, CANCER, SEXTANS, HYDRA
Eyes on the Sky: Feb 20 thru Feb 26
Moon in motion
See the Moon pass Mercury, Uranus, Venus and Jupiter all throughout this week; the brightest stars of Gemini and M35 are spotlighted as well. Also discussed: Where and when to see Mars and Saturn in the night sky this week.
- Constellations: Origins and Now (heavenswithlamps.wordpress.com)
- Download Stellarium free (heavenswithlamps.wordpress.com)