Observe the moon this Saturday

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International Observe the Moon Night is this Saturday, October 12. Head on out and look at the moon, just a day past first quarter and well situated for evening viewing. Get out there and get to know our nearest celestial neighbor, our partner and protector in space. Without the moon, why, where would we be?

Closest perigee for the moon this year

Moon, two days before full. August 29, 2012, 10 p.m. EDT.

Isn’t that a whole lot easier to say than “Supermoon”? But seriously, if you want to know what’s happening with this Sunday morning’s full moon, the best article I’ve seen in a while is over at Sky and Telescope’s website.

The moon will appear about 7% larger than the average full moon, because it’s going to be—get this—7% closer to us. 357 061 km, instead of the “average” 384 402 km.

It will appear more than 7% brighter, though, because brightness varies with the square of the distance. So, (384,4022 − 357,0612) / 384,4022 × 100 = 13% brighter.

If […]

October 2012 full moon

October 28. 2012 Full moon

The Hunter’s moon rises nearly or completely full over three successive nights at nearly the same time each night. On Eastern Daylight Time this year, the nights of the 27th, 28th, and 29th, at 5:21, 5:57, and 6:35, respectively. Full moon is today at 3:50 p.m. EDT, but this shot was taken last night right around 10 p.m.

It was relatively far away (402 000 km), and the libration was a little over 4 degrees both east (eastern limb tilted toward Earth) and south (southern limb tilted toward Earth). With the eastern tilt, you can just barely make […]

September 2012 full moon: the birthday edition!

September 29, 2012 Full moon

The 2012 harvest moon occurs tonight at 11:19 p.m. EDT. Only 395,493 km from Earth tonight. Libration, as you can see, is quite southern (see how far the bright crater Tycho is from the bottom edge?), and a bit of the eastern limb is more visible as well (if you know your selenography, you can make out the bright pixels representing Gibbs almost dead center on the right-hand limb).

As you can see, I’m still working on the focus problems; the low clouds that make the slight haze around the moon are out of my control, but I […]

Full moon in August

August 30. 2012 Full moon

The second full moon in August (well, about 12 hours before full). I found my digiscope camera!

Despite what the Clear Sky Clock for Boca Raton says, this evening had nothing but high clouds and haze overhead, so while the naked eye views through the eyepiece were steady and beautiful, the camera view was a bit more obscured. Oh, well.

August’s moons: blue or not?

This year and next year, the month of August will bring you the two different definitions of the term blue moon. As you know, every 2.7 years the twelve months of the calendar feature thirteen full moons. There are only twelve full moon names, though, so when a “year” has thirteen moons, you have to decide how to name that “extra” moon. (I’ll explain why I put the word year in quotes later.)

As a culture, we’ve collectively decided that such extra moons shall be called blue:

Whoops! Wrong kind. Here’s the kind I’m actually talking about:


Thunder Moon: July 3, 2012

July 3, 2012 Full moon

July’s full moon is sometimes known as the Thunder Moon. No thunder tonight here in Boca, apart from a few wiseacres testing their squibs for tomorrow’s celebration of Independence Day. But we do have plenty of moisture in the air, robbing my pictures of clarity. Nevertheless, here is this month’s full moon:

The moon in June: Full on the third

June 3, 2012 Full moon

Hello, there! Now that we’re already a couple of days past the new moon, it’s high time once again for the monthly snapshot of the full moon. (I say snapshot because that’s really what it is. If and when I ever get an imaging system that works with my telescope gear, I’ll “upgrade” the name to “image.”)

This was taken way back on June 3, fighting the ever-present low cloud/haze that obscures the moon for nights on end.

Typical summertime complaint of south Florida backyard astronomers.


May’s Full Moon

May 5, 2012 Full moon

May’s full moon occurs, at least for North Americans, on a relatively misunderstood holiday (Cinco de Mayo, which is not the Mexican equivalent to the Fourth of July, but does celebrate an unlikely victory of the Mexican army over the French in 1862). Of perhaps greater interest to astronomically minded folk, though, this month’s full moon occurs not only near perigee (just an hour separates the two events) but near the closest perigee of the year (the Earth-Moon distance being 356,955 km at the time).

A similar perigee situation took place last October, but at new moon, instead of full.


Full moons, February through April 2012

April 7, 2012, Full moon

I haven’t posted about the full moons this year; here are the last three. [As you can see from the photos, the reason I stopped posting was the poor focus of February’s image. I’ve since fixed the problem, but haven’t recovered my motivation to post the series in a timely fashion.]

February 7, 2012:

March 8, 20912

And last Friday/Saturday morning, April 7, 2012: