Lunar Eclipse | 15 May 2022

The skies cleared as evening approached. The Moon was aligned with Earth and the Sun. Their syzygy at 9:30 pm CDT brought the Moon into the umbra of the Earth’s shadow. Desktop software gave a simulated view like this. The faint inner circle is the umbra. The larger circle is the penumbra.

My camera was mounted on a tripod and set for capturing images about every 15 minutes starting at 9:30. The images were cropped to place the umbra in nearly the same place in each image. That placement highlighted the movement of the Moon over the 15 minute time periods between photos.

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Jupiter Nears Venus | 27 Apr 2022

The Moon was watching from below as Jupiter and Venus neared each another. This view was at 5:40 am local time. The closest approach for the two planets is Saturday 30 April. They will be separated by less than the width of our Moon. Get up and see it if you have clear skies.

5:40 am | 27 Apr 2022

Venus Saturn Mars

Venus has been a prominent early morning sight for several weeks. If you are an early-riser and look low toward east, you can’t miss it. It will be there until late summer or early fall. Less obvious in the same part of the sky are the planets Saturn and Mars. On 28 March 2022, the clear predawn sky even presented a thin crescent Moon below this grouping of those planets.

On successive mornings, Saturn and Mars approached closer to each other. This view on 3 April 2022 was photographed through a living room window. The green thing is a glass ornament. This was the only unobstructed viewpoint due to trees and rooftops.

3 April 2022 at 6:14 am

It was a rainy morning on April 4. But, the sky was mostly clear on the 5th. Saturn and Mars were at their closest approach less than the diameter of a full moon.

5 April 2022 at 6:00 am

Keep watching that part of the sky to the lower left of Venus. Jupiter will begin making an appearance. On 18 April 2022, these four planets will form a straight line like this.

18 April 2022 at 6:00 am

Analemmas | Solar and Lunar

Solar Analemma

Perhaps you are familiar with the concept of a Solar Analemma. Set up a camera pointing toward the southern sky so it will record the position of the Sun. Take a picture of that same part of the sky at the same time every day for a year. Adjust for daylight saving time changes in the spring and fall. Some days will be cloudy. Enough clear days will allow images to capture the Sun’s location and resulting pattern in the sky over the course of the year.

The team of Alan Smith and Joe Startin of the Orwel Astronomical Society near Ipswich, Suffolk, UK, reported on their efforts to do just that in 2014-2015. Their story is here. They used a webcam pointing south controlled by a computer. It took a picture mid-day for a year. They created an animated GIF with the images. Below is a screen shot of their GIF after a year of solar images. It is called the analemma. The shape of the analemma is primarily due to two factors. The Earth’s axis is tilted with respect to the plane of its orbit, hence the up and down variation. And, Earth’s orbit is not circular causing the left and right variation. The Earth’s axial tilt also has an effect on the left-right variation. A more detailed explanation of the shape of the analemma can be found courtesy of Louis Strous of the National Solar Observatory, Sacramento Peak, NM.

Alan Smith and Joe Startin | Orwel Astronomical Society
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Dial-a-Moon | 2022

What will the Moon look like on any date in 2022? What will it look like on your birthday? Find out at NASA Dial-a-Moon. An example of what you will see is pictured below for 16 January 2021. The 2022 dates will give a different phase of the Moon. Set dates and see views for readers in the northern hemisphere and for southern hemisphere by following either link. Enter any month and day to see a high definition image. You may leave the universal time (UT) hour at the default value. If you want to be more precise, your local-to-Universal time conversion can be done at this link. Or, type ‘universal time’ into Google. Go back to Dial-a-Moon to enter the UT.

After visiting Dial-a-Moon, scan down that web page for a wealth of additional information about the Moon’s motions and appearance. The images of Dial-a-Moon are made from those of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) in low altitude orbit around the Moon since 2009.

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