Category Archives: sky

February’s Full Moon is popularly known as the Snow Moon or Hunger Moon

The Sky This Week, 2016 February 16 – 23 — Naval Oceanography Portal

The Moon waxes through her gibbous phases this week, with Full Moon occurring on the 22nd at 1:20 pm Eastern Standard Time. February’s Full Moon is popularly known as the Snow Moon or Hunger Moon, indicative of the harsh weather that often accommodates the year’s shortest month. Look for the Moon near the bright star Regulus on the evenings of the 21st and 22nd. On the 23rd she cozies up to bright Jupiter, with less than two degrees of space between them.

The Sky This Week, 2016 February 16 – 23 — Naval Oceanography Portal

How to View Five Planets Aligning in a Celestial Spectacle – The New York Times

Five planets paraded across the dawn sky early Wednesday in a rare celestial spectacle set to repeat every morning until late next month.

Headlining the planetary performance are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. It is the first time in more than a decade that the fab five are simultaneously visible to the naked eye, according to Jason Kendall, who is on the board of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York.

Admission to the daily show is free, though stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere should plan to get up about 45 minutes before sunrise to catch it.

How to View Five Planets Aligning in a Celestial Spectacle – The New York Times

For the first time in a decade, you can see 5 planets aligned without a telescope

For the first time in a decade, you can see 5 planets aligned without a telescope

For the first time in more than a decade, Mercury, Mars, Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter — the five planets bright enough to be seen with an unaided eye — will all be visible at once in the sky.

You’ll have to wake up early to catch it. Starting January 20, it will be possible to see all five planets in a row, about 45 minutes before sunrise, Sky and Telescope reports. The planets should be visible in this arrangement until February 20.

(Sky and Telescope notes it might get harder to see Mercury after the first week of February, because of its low position near the horizon).

For the first time in a decade, you can see 5 planets aligned without a telescope

Latest sunrise of the year on 1/5/16

The Sky This Week, 2015 December 29 – 2016 January 5 — Naval Oceanography Portal

The latest sunrise of the year occurs on January 5th, when Old Sol crests the horizon at 7:27 am EST here in Washington, DC. On that same evening sunset occurs at 5:00 pm, 14 minutes later than its earliest sunset back on December 7th. The total length of daylight on New Year’s Day will be 9 hours 30 minutes, four minutes longer than it was on the day of the solstice, and the days will steadily increase in length until the summer solstice, which will fall on June 20.

The Sky This Week, 2015 December 29 – 2016 January 5 — Naval Oceanography Portal

Venus and Mars in the morning sky

The Sky This Week, 2015 October 27 – November 3 — Naval Oceanography Portal

The bright planets are now confined to the morning sky where you’ll find Venus and Jupiter dominating the view before sunrise. The two planets had a spectacular conjunction on the 26th, and while Venus draws away from the giant planet the pair will remain a beautiful sight to the naked eye. If you look carefully you’ll see the much fainter ruddy glow of Mars just below the brighter pair. Over the course of the week Venus will close in on the red planet, and early risers on the 3rd will see them less than a degree apart. This sight will be worth getting up early for; just remember that it will be best seen at around 5:00 am Standard Time!

The Sky This Week, 2015 October 27 – November 3 — Naval Oceanography Portal

Halloween is known as a "cross-quarter day"

The Sky This Week, 2015 October 27 – November 3 — Naval Oceanography Portal

Since it occurs about mid-way between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice, Halloween is known as a “cross-quarter day” that was celebrated widely in Europe before the influence of Christianity took hold. This early observance was known as Samhain and was celebrated as a harvest festival marking the boundary between the days of light and the nights of winter’s darkness. It was also thought to be a time when the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead drew closest, so a large part of the celebration included honoring ancestors and others who had passed into the underworld. When Christianity swept northern Europe the festival was incorporated into the feats of All Saints’ Day, which traditionally fell on November 1st. Carving a Jack O’ Lantern is a part of the tradition, imitating illuminated gourds and turnips lit to welcome the spirits of the dead to enter a home and partake of food and drink.

The Sky This Week, 2015 October 27 – November 3 — Naval Oceanography Portal

Leaf-falling Moon 10/27

Technically full after midnight, watch for it 10/26 and 10/28, too.

The Sky This Week, 2015 October 20 – 27 — Naval Oceanography Portal

The Moon waxes in the evening sky this week, wending her way through the autumnal constellations as she makes her way eastward along the ecliptic. Full Moon occurs on the 27th at 8:05 an Eastern Daylight Time. October’s Full Moon is popularly called the Hunter’s Moon, and it shares almost the same horizon geometry as September’s Harvest Moon. In far northern latitudes this causes successive moonrises to occur at about the same time on the nights around the full phase, and this “extra” light gave hunters a little more time to pursue game across the stubble of the harvested fields. Some Native Americans referred to it as the Leaf-falling Moon or the Nut Moon. Because the autumn sky is filled with mostly dim, ill-defined constellation patterns Luna’s journey this week is a lonely one; there are no bright objects along her path to meet with.

The Sky This Week, 2015 October 20 – 27 — Naval Oceanography Portal

Watch for Venus and Jupiter in the morning sky 10/25-26, Venus & Mars 11/3

The Sky This Week, 2015 October 20 – 27 — Naval Oceanography Portal

The main planetary action occurs in the pre-dawn sky with dazzling Venus, bright Jupiter, and a rather subdued ruddy Mars interacting over the next few weeks. You’ll have no trouble watching Venus close in on Jupiter this week. The two planets will be closest together on the mornings of the 25th and 26th when they will be separated by just over one degree. After that Venus will set her sights on Mars, passing the red planet on November 3rd. It’s well worth rising before the Sun to watch this celestial dance through the end of October while we’re still on Daylight Time. After November 1st everything will occur an hour earlier as we return to Standard Time!

The Sky This Week, 2015 October 20 – 27 — Naval Oceanography Portal

Supermoon eclipse coming Sept. 27: 1982-2015- 2033

I’ll be 78 for the next one.

a rare celestial event: a supermoon coinciding with a total lunar eclipse.

Both phenomena create intriguing displays high in the sky, but the last time the two happened together was more than 30 years ago. 

“That’s rare because it’s something an entire generation may not have seen,” Noah Petro, deputy project scientist for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center told NASA. The last time the two stellar events combined was in 1982, and NASA experts predict the next one won’t occur until 2033.

Supermoon eclipse coming Sept. 27: How rare is the celestial treat?

Moon Phases 2015, Northern Hemisphere

The first link is to a video of all of the phases of the moon in 2015. The second is the first tool I’ve seen that actually displays the moon phase for a given date and time. Pretty cool.

Moon Phases 2015, Northern Hemisphere | Flickr – Photo Sharing!

Moon Phases 2015, Northern Hemisphere

This visualization shows the Moon’s phase and libration at hourly intervals throughout 2015, as viewed from the northern hemisphere. Each frame represents one hour.

Moon Phases 2015, Northern Hemisphere | Flickr – Photo Sharing!

SVS: Moon Phase and Libration, 2015 (id 4236)

The animation archived on this page shows the geocentric phase, libration, position angle of the axis, and apparent diameter of the Moon throughout the year 2015, at hourly intervals.

SVS: Moon Phase and Libration, 2015 (id 4236)