The powerful NASA launch vehicle SLS carried the Artemis I mission one step closer to its goal of sending astronauts to the Moon and ultimately Mars. The payload of Orion is unmanned on this initial mission profile. It will go to the Moon and 26 days later be back to Earth.
The GOES-16 weather satellite currently in geostationary orbit frequently images the east coast in many wavelengths. It captured the launch seen here in this video clip.
It was election day in the U.S. I was up early to go serve as a poll watcher at my local voting place. Because of the lunar eclipse, I was up to view it before leaving the house. The Moon was low in the northwest beginning to encounter some tree branches.
In this first photo, the time was 5:26 am still during the totality phase. A dark tree branch in the foreground can be seen running vertically. I opened a living room window for the image using my digital camera on full zoom. Not quite in focus.
I waited awhile for it to emerge from totality at 5:46 am. By then, it had moved farther down into the tree branches to see from the living room. I took the camera and tripod out to the driveway and got a clear view some 3 minutes later.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.