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10/12/2018 – Ephemeris – The Moon’s phases

October 12, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, October 12th. The Sun will rise at 7:54. It’ll be up for 11 hours and 8 minutes, setting at 7:03. The Moon, halfway from new to first quarter, will set at 9:31 this evening.

The Moon’s changing appearance over the month may seem to be mysterious at first glance. Maybe because one may think that the objects in the sky are somehow different from the familiar objects we see around us on the Earth. In ancient times, especially the Greeks thought that everything in the heavens halfway perfect and spotless. They explained the definite markings we see as the man-in-the-moon as a reflection of the Earth by a spotless Moon. The Moon’s phases are simply light and shadow on a ball in the sunlight. Sometimes, when the Moon appears in the daytime, take a small ball, like a golf ball and hold it up to the Moon, while the ball is also in sunlight, and the small ball will exhibit the same phase as the Moon.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Moon phases
One of the best explanation diagrams of the Moon’s phases as it relates to the Earth and Sun. Click on the image to enlarge. Credit Wikimedia user Orion 8.
Moon ball
Demonstration of the Moon’s crescent phase with the Styrofoam moon ball we use for Project Astro held up to a light off of the frame to the right. The night side of the ball is illuminated a bit by the translucency of the ball, and the reflection off of my hand. Note the roughness of the ball is visible only at the terminator.
Moonball
Demonstration of the Moon’s gibbous phase with the Styrofoam moon ball we use for Project Astro held up to a light off of the frame to the right. The night side of the ball is illuminated a bit by the translucency of the ball, and the reflection off of my hand. Note the roughness of the ball is visible only at the terminator.
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09/25/2018 – Ephemeris – The harvest moon effect

September 25, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, September 25th. The Sun will rise at 7:33. It’ll be up for 12 hours and 1 minute, setting at 7:34. The Moon, 1 day past full, will rise at 8:17 this evening.

The full, or nearly full moon, just rising, looks like a large orange pumpkin. The color, like the red of the sunset is caused by the scattering out of blue light by the atmosphere. It can happen at any full moon, not just the Harvest Moon, which was officially yesterday. What the Moon around the Harvest Moon does do is rise only a little later each evening. This helped the farmers in earlier times extend daylight to bring in the crops. On average the moon rises or sets 50 minutes later each night. However when the Moon is in the part of the sky where it is moving northward as well as eastward, then it rises only a little later each night. Tomorrow’s Moon will rise only 27 minutes later than it will this evening.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Harvest moon effect 2018
The harvest moon effect 2018 showing the shallow path of the Moon near moonrise and the intervals between them for 5 consecutive dates. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

09/24/2018 – Ephemeris – The harvest moon and the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival

September 24, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, September 24th. The Sun will rise at 7:32. It’ll be up for 12 hours and 4 minutes, setting at 7:36. The Moon, at full today, will rise at 7:51 this evening.

Tonight at 10:53 p.m. the Moon will be full. And since it’s only two days past the autumnal equinox, this makes it the Harvest Moon. This full moon also marks the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival to honor the Moon and the story of Chang’e a mortal woman to took an elixir and flew off to the Moon and became a goddess. Another story revolves around the Jade Rabbit pounding Medicine. I talked about the figure of a rabbit seen on the face of the Moon last Monday. He is a companion to Chang’e, and has a mortar on the Moon with him. He pounds out the medicine that makes the inhabitants of the sky immortal. The Chinese lunar probes are named Chang’e. Chang’e 3 landed on the Moon in 2013 and sent out a lunar rover named Yutu , the Jade Rabbit.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

The Jade Rabbit
The Jade Rabbit on the Moon. The more complete title is Jade Rabbit pounding medicine (in the mortar at his feet.
Chang'e flying to the Moon
Chang’e flying to the Moon. Unknown source.

09/17/2018 – Ephemeris – The Moon Tonight and the Jade Rabbit

September 17, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, September 17th. The Sun will rise at 7:24. It’ll be up for 12 hours and 25 minutes, setting at 7:49. The Moon, 1 day past first quarter, will set at 1:03 tomorrow morning.

Now is a good time to point that small telescope or binoculars toward the Moon. The gray seas on the right side of the moon depict the neck, head and ears of the Jade Rabbit. It’s curled up body is on the night side of the Moon to the left. The rabbit is upside down as we see him with the naked eye or binoculars. The Sea of Serenity is the upper part of his body, the head is the Sea of Tranquility. A bay south of Tranquility and the Sea of Nectar is one ear and the Sea of Fertility is the other ear. The Jade Rabbit is related to the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival which occurs at our Harvest Moon. It’s on September 24th this year. Another amateur astronomer and myself brought telescopes to the local festival last year to view the Jade Rabbit on the Moon.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

The Moon tonight
The Moon tonight, September 17, 208 at 9 p.m., with the head of the Jade Rabbit. Created using Virtual Moon Atlas
The Jade Rabbit
The Jade Rabbit on the Moon. The more complete title is Jade Rabbit pounding medicine (in the mortar at his feet.  From Wikipedia source is Zeimus.

09/13/2018 – Ephemeris – The Man in the Moon’s eye

September 13, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, September 13th. The Sun will rise at 7:19. It’ll be up for 12 hours and 37 minutes, setting at 7:57. The Moon, 3 days before first quarter, will set at 10:27 this evening.

The Moon tonight is a 4 day old moon, and appears near the planet Jupiter. Day one is its first appearance in the evening after disappearing from the morning sky. The ancients called it the new moon, but astronomers treat the conjunction of the Moon and the Sun as the new moon. In this program I note the days before or after the nearest quarter phase, as a better representation of the actual appearance of the Moon’s phase. The Moon will be a beautiful crescent tonight. Binoculars will reveal a dark area just above the fattest part of the crescent. It serves as one of the Man in the Moon’s eyes. Its official name is Mare Crisium, or Sea of Crises. Most of the Moon’s seas are connected, or appear to be. This one is definitely not.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

The 4 day old Moon

The 4 day old Moon showing Mare Crisium, the Sea of Crises. 9 p.m. September 13, 2018. Created using Virtual Moon Atlas.

Categories: Phases, The Moon Tags:

09/11/2018 – Ephemeris – Earth shine on the Moon

September 11, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, September 11th. The Sun will rise at 7:16. It’ll be up for 12 hours and 43 minutes, setting at 8:00. The Moon, 2 days past new, will set at 9:27 this evening.

At around 8:30 this evening Venus will be in the southwest only 9 degrees above the horizon, about the width of a fist held at arm’s length. While viewing Venus the Moon will be to the right and above our evening star. It will be a thin sliver of a crescent and in the twilight there will be the suggestion that there is more than the thin sliver of the Moon visible. Binoculars will confirm that the entire disk of the Moon will be visible. The effect is called earth shine. The nearly full Earth is illuminating the Moon to a much greater degree than the full Moon illuminates the Earth. The Earth is about 4 times the Moons diameter and its surface is about twice as bright and the Moon’s. The ancients called it: “The old Moon in the new Moon’s arms.”

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Venus, Moon and Jupiter

Venus, the Moon and Jupiter at 8:30 p.m. September 11, 2018. Created using Stellarium.

The Moon with Earth shine

An overly colored Moon to bring out Earth shine on thye evening of September 11, 2018. Created by Stellarium. Overly processed in GIMP.

08/28/2018 – Ephemeris – Water on the Moon

August 28, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, August 28th. The Sun will rise at 7:00. It’ll be up for 13 hours and 26 minutes, setting at 8:26. The Moon, 2 days past full, will rise at 9:47 this evening.

Ten years ago India launched its lunar orbiting Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft. On it was a NASA instrument the Moon Mineralogy Mapper to study the composition of the Moon’s crust. With it they discovered signatures of water at the Moon’s high latitudes, probably in water-bearing minerals. Water was also confirmed in craters near the Moon’s south pole by the LCROSS probe that was launched with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2009. It crashed near the Moon’s south pole in a crater following a centaur stage which it was observing. Though the expected visual show wasn’t visible from Earth the LCROSS satellite saw and returned its observations before it too crashed. It relayed that the Moon had ice near the south pole.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Water Detected at High Latitudes on the Moon

Water Detected at High Latitudes on the Moon by the Moon Mineralogy Mapper The water-bearing minerals are colored blue. Credit ISRO/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Brown Univ./USGS

Map of water at the Moon's poles

The Moon’s south pole area on the left and north pole on the right. The cyan color shows shadowed areas where ice is located. From data gathered by the Moon Mineralogy Mapper, and instruments on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, and LCROSS. Click on image to enlarge. Credit NASA.

Finding water is a big deal.  It helps Moon colonists live off the land, so to speak.  While the poles on Earth are foreboding places, those of the Moon could give colonists an advantage.  First, that’s where the water is.  The Moon has very little axial tilt so deep craters never see the sunlight, and high peaks see eternal sunlight, a great place to place solar panels for just about continuous energy production.