Supermoon | 31 Jan 2018

In the evening of 30 January, the Moon rose bright and large in the east. Within 12 hours, it would be in the shadow of the Earth. There were a few clouds. The forecast was calling for a 50% cloud cover in the morning.

7 pm CST

At about 3 am I noticed the Moon was shining brightly through the bedroom windows. I felt hopeful the much hyped Supermoon would be visible before moonset/sunrise. I got up at 5:40 and walked down the street a few houses with camera and tripod. The Moon was entering some clouds toward the horizon. Overhead it was very clear. Eclipse was in progress.

We drove to a location away from houses and lights to get one more chance to photograph the beginning of totality. Too late. Clouds took over and the Moon disappeared. We headed home to watch online. NASA carried excellent video from three sites in California. These four images were screen grabs from Griffith Observatory near Los Angeles. They show the blood moon and the emergence from totality.

Using video from NASA via Griffith Observatory, I layered frame grabs onto a disk the size of the umbra of Earth. It shows the relative size of the Moon compared to Earth. Progress was slow as it moved at a speed of about 2,300 mi/hr (3,700 km/hr or 1 km/s). Totality began at 6:51 and ended at 8:08 CST.

Video via NASA | Griffith Observatory

Here is a beautiful time-lapse of the view from Griffith Observatory. It takes only a minute.

As the event ended, the Moon appeared low to the horizon as viewed by a telescope at the Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards AFB. These frame grabs captured the distorted Moon behind some hills with wind turbines in view. As the Moon disappeared, it added a sense of finality to the entire event. It was a lot of fun to watch. I hope you were able to see it.


Super-Blue-Blood Moon | 31 Jan 2018

No doubt you have heard about the upcoming full-moon on 31 January. It is the 2nd one of this month. By the way, March also has two full-moons. If something prevents you from seeing this event, you are in luck. There are several online sources offering live coverage.

Supermoon of 1 Jan 2018

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Viewing Heavenly Bodies | 2018

🔭  Updates an earlier post to include recent changes and new information.

As an amateur astronomer, I use desktop planetarium software to plan viewing sessions and keep track of the planets and Moon. There are many products available for all computer platforms and smartphones. A Google search yields links to many sources. I downloaded and use the open source Stellarium on my desktop computer. It can be customized to your location and is free. For Android and Mac phones and tablets, I like SkySafari. It isn’t free but is inexpensive.

Online planetarium sites are popular and offer many features. Below are highlights of some I find interesting. Each has multiple features, a unique look and feel, and different levels of detail. They can help satisfy your curiosity about astronomical events.

I have included only a few select sites and links since so many are available. I welcome reader questions or reviews about using these tools or others you find helpful.



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Dark Skies, Everyone!

Thoughts about light pollution from fellow blogger and amateur astronomer Scott Levine.

Scott's Sky Watch

Hey, everyone.

In November 1988, and I’m having as hard a time believing it was 20 years ago as you are, I stepped off, or was shooed off, a dolmuş and watched as the beaded curtains in the windows disappeared into the exhaust and dust along the bumpy, cracked road a half hour drive from Antalya, Turkey.

A dolmuş is a van that fills the gap between bus and taxi, running along a fairly set route, along a fairly set schedule, but freely making stops along the way. Over the long hours before, my friends and I had ridden streetcars, subways, long-haul, overnight buses, and finally that dolmuş to get to the a spot that was so remote, so confusing, and so uncomfortable that, to paraphrase Homer Simpson, I was somewhere where I didn’t know where I was, and my immediate feeling was of total loss.

As we left Istanbul…

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Mars-Jupiter Conjunction | 2018 January 4, 5, 6, 8

Update: We did have cloudy skies on the 7th but the 8th dawned clear. I got the camera ready and grabbed the shot. Here are the four days superimposed. The latest position of Mars on the 8th is to the lower left of Jupiter. You might need to click to embiggen if using a small device for viewing.


Previously Posted:

It was bitter cold outside each of the past three mornings. But, the skies were clear. Jupiter and Mars were visible through the living room windows. I set the camera on the tripod and captured three images here superimposed. Mars approached Jupiter from the upper right. In the closest position, Mars was less than the width of a full moon from Jupiter. The next two mornings will be cloudy here. Mars will be seen to the lower left. If it is clear where you live, look southeast an hour before sunrise.

Supermoons | 2018 Jan 1 and 31

The first of two January supermoons occurs on Jan 1. If you have an unobstructed view to the east, the full moon will rise just before 5 pm CST giving you good viewing or photographic opportunities. The moon’s orbit is not quite a circle. When it is closest to earth in that orbit, it appears up to 14% larger than when it is at its farthest from earth. Popular culture calls it super.

The next supermoon occurs on Jan 31. A second full moon in a month is referred to as a blue moon. Alignment of the moon with the shadow of earth on that day gives us another treat as a total lunar eclipse. The moon often looks a red color and is referred to as a blood moon. Our popular culture has several labels to attach to this moon event. It is a super-blue-blood moon in total eclipse. More details about that upcoming event as it nears.