Tour of the Moon

Take a time-out from the news of the day or your busy routine. Tour some of the interesting features of our Moon as presented by the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/David Ladd. Best viewed in HD by using the gear button at the bottom right of the video window.

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Mars Passes Saturn | Spring 2018

Earth has been moving closer to Mars this spring as we orbit the Sun. We reach inferior conjunction, our closest to the planet, in late July 2018. Mars will appear larger in telescope views until then. No, it will not appear as large as a full moon contrary to an internet meme that has gone around for years.

Saturn is in the distant backround when viewed early in the mornings. Because Mars is closer to the Sun than Saturn, it passed by the slower moving Saturn. This short animation illustrates the passage. Watch Saturn slowly move across the frame. Also, watch for the Moon to pass by at the end of the animation. That happened on 7 April 2018.

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Viewing Heavenly Bodies | 2018

ūüĒ≠ ¬†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.

SaturnRingsTop

NASA

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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.

Dial-a-Moon | 2018

How will the Moon look on any date in 2018? What will it look like on your birthday? Find out at NASA Dial-a-Moon. Enter any month, day, and universal time (UT) hour to see a high definition image. The composite images of Dial-a-Moon are made from those of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) in low altitude orbit around the Moon since 2009. Here is the link for southern hemisphere readers.

You may leave the universal time (UT) at the default 1 value. If you are a curious type, Universal time conversion¬†can be done¬†at this link. Enter UTC¬†in the lower right box if it isn’t already set. You can switch from 12 hr to 24 hr at the bottom of the entry boxes. You may also enter any other local time in the upper left box. Go back to Dial-a-Moon to enter the UT.

The collection of accurate images of the Moon for each hour have been made into a movie lasting about 5 minutes. Try watching full screen. Versions of the movie are available for readers in the northern and the southern hemispheres.

I explain the peculiar wobble and tipping motions at this blog post.

Northern hemisphere

Southern hemisphere