Casual Astronomy, Spaceflight News and Lower California Weather

Planetary Alignments, Morning & Evening (see blog entry) ••••• Brilliant Venus WNW after Sunset, Sets Late Evening ••••• Bright & Reddish Mars High WSW at Dark (very near Bright & Blueish Regulus), Sets WNW after Midnight (see blog entry) ••••• Bright Saturn High SSW at Dark, Sets West Early Morning ••••• Brilliant Jupiter Rises East Early Morning (very near Blue-Green Uranus), ESE at Dawn (see blog entry) ••••• Very Bright Mercury Rising ENE at Dawn

By: LowerCal, 3:23 PM GMT on May 14, 2010

CURRENT MOON

moon phases

Scroll past the links below to find special events for current and future dates. Scroll farther to find past events.

Today - SpaceWeather.com
also EarthSky,
365 Days of Astronomy
& Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine
This Week - SkyandTelescope.com - This Week's Sky at a Glance
also Jack Horkheimer - Star Gazer, Current Scripts
& This Week In Space on YouTube
This Month - SkyandTelescope.com - Sky Tour Podcasts
also HubbleSite - Tonight's Sky: Your guide to constellations, deep sky objects, planets, and events
Anytime - Stellarium (free planetarium for your computer)
also Sky & Telescope Interactive Sky Chart (online planetarium)

Visible Satellites:
Simplest - Satellite Flybys by SpaceweatherPhone.com
More satellites and more info - Heavens-Above.com

Launches:
Spaceflight Now - Worldwide Launch Schedule,
Vandenberg AFB Launch Schedule &
Wallops Flight Facility Launch Webcast & Blog
Reentries - Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies - Upcoming & Recent Reentries

Live Aurora Cams:
Kiruna, Sweden &
Sodankyla, Finland

Most events described below can be viewed with your eyes alone. Occasionally simple binoculars will improve the view and that will be noted.

***** Current & Future Events *****

Uranus less than ½° from Jupiter

June 5-8, before Dawn
In the ESE sky dim blue-green planet Uranus will appear less than ½° to the upper left of brilliant off-white planet Jupiter. Use binoculars.


Mars less than 1° from Regulus

June 5-8, after Dusk
In the WSW sky bright and reddish planet Mars appears less than 1° from bright blueish star Regulus.


Vandenberg GBI Launch

Image credit: MDA (Missle Defense Agency)

Launch Vehicle: GBI (Ground Based Interceptor)
Launch from Vandenberg AFB, California
June 6
Time to be determined.


***** Past Events *****

Dark Moon (a.k.a. astronomical new moon)

Exact at
May 14
0104 GMT
May 13
9:04pm EDT
6:04pm PDT.

Lower and thinner morning crescent moons the week before. Higher and thicker evening crescent moons the week after.




Image from: Australian Cooperative Research Centre for Renewable Energy

The gravitational pull of the Moon accounts for about 2/3 of the influence on Earth's tides with the Sun accounting for the remaining 1/3. On this date the gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun are aligned resulting in stronger tides - higher highs, lower lows and faster flows (see SPRING-TIDES). (Due to the huge mass and volume of the ocean's water the tidal effect lags behind the phases of the Moon. The delay can be as long as three days at some times and places.)

Also see The Moon And Tides.


) Thinnest Evening Crescent Moon (the original meaning of "new moon")

WunderPhoto: One day old Moon by LaddObservatory Friday June 15, 2007

May 14, 15 or 16
Low in the western sky soon after sunset.

Earliest and thinnest sightings will be possible from the North Atlantic and North and Central America the evening of May 14. New Zealand will not see the new moon until the evening of May 16.

See the visibility maps at Moonsighting.com.


Shuttle Atlantis Launch, STS-132 Mission & Landing + Double Spacecraft Flyovers

Photo credit: NASA/Jack Pfaller

Mission: STS-132
Spacecraft & Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Discovery

Launch from Kennedy Space Center, Florida
May 14
1820 GMT ±5min
2:20pm EDT ±5min (local time)
11:20am PDT ±5min.

Docking with ISS (International Space Station)
May 16
1427 GMT
10:27am EDT
7:27am PDT.

Undocking from ISS
May 23
1520 GMT
11:20am EDT
8:20am PDT.

Landing at Kennedy Space Center
May 26
1244 GMT
8:44am EDT (local time)
5:44am PDT.

Find (when published) landing options at NASA - Launch and Landing
and the landing paths (when published) at NASA - STS-132 Landing Ground Tracks.

Launch status updates at
Spaceflight Now | Tracking Station | Worldwide launch schedule.

You can follow the progress of the Space Shuttle mission online at
Spaceflight Now | STS-132 Shuttle Report | Mission Status Center
and
NASA - Space Shuttle.

You can dig for more info at
Spaceflight Now - Index of /shuttle/sts132
and
CBS News Space Place - Space Shuttle Status Report.

Live online coverage of the mission will be on NASA TV - see the NASA TV Schedule.


WunderPhoto: SPACECRAFT by Westerberg Wednesday June 20, 2007

Between launch and docking with the ISS & undocking and landing it may be possible to sight both craft in the sky at the same time. Shuttle Atlantis and the ISS will be making visible passes over North America between launch and docking.

Check satellite pass predictions at
Heavens-Above
or try the simpler tool at
Satellite Flybys by SpaceweatherPhone.com.


JPL Open House

May 15 & 16

The 2010 JPL Open House will take place on Saturday and Sunday, May 15 and 16, 2010, 9am-5pm both days.

If you can't be there try the Virtual JPL Open House at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m. Pacific time (1, 2, 3 and 4 p.m. Eastern time). Each segment will run for about 20 minutes.


Photo Ops: Venus & Thin Crescent Moons
May 15 & 16, Early Evening

Over the western horizon after sunset and early evening on May 15 a thin crescent moon will stand below the brilliant planet Venus. On May 16 the crescent moon will stand above Venus.


Moon Rides with Mars
May 19
The planet Mars is the bright and reddish point of light near the Moon tonight.


Tanegashima H-IIA Launch

Photo credit: JAXA

Missions/Spacecraft: AKATSUKI Venus Climate Orbiter & IKAROS Solar Power Sail Demonstrator
Launch Vehicle: H-IIA 202
Launch from Tanegashima Space Center, Japan
May 18
6:44am JST (Japan Standard Time, local time)
May 17
2144 GMT
5:44pm EDT
2:44pm PDT.
To Be Announced

May 21
6:58am JST (Japan Standard Time, local time)
May 20
2158 GMT
5:58pm EDT
2:58pm PDT.

Launch status updates are at
Spaceflight Now | Tracking Station | Worldwide launch schedule.

More details on the mission are at
Spaceflight Now | H-2A Launch Report | Mission Status Center
and
JAXA | AKATSUKI Special Site.

A live webcast of the launch will start half an hour before the launch at
JAXA - Live Broadcast.


◐ First Quarter Moon

Exact at
May 20
2345 GMT
7:45pm EDT
4:45pm PDT.

Rises near noon and sets near midnight. Evening crescent moons for a week before. Each one thicker and higher above the western horizon.




Image from: Australian Cooperative Research Centre for Renewable Energy

The gravitational pull of the Moon accounts for about 2/3 of the influence on Earth's tides with the Sun accounting for the remaining 1/3. On this date the gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun are at right angles resulting in weaker tides - lower highs, higher lows and slower flows (see NEAP-TIDES). (Due to the huge mass and volume of the ocean's water the tidal effect lags behind the phases of the Moon. The delay can be as long as three days at some times and places.)

Also see The Moon And Tides.


Moon Rides with Regulus

(This view is WSW just after dark for North America.)
Image created with Stellarium (a free download).

May 20
The star Regulus is the bright and blueish point of light near the Moon tonight.

Regulus is the brightest star in the constellation Leo the Lion. Regulus is the "point" in pattern of stars that resemble a backward question mark. That pattern represents the mane and chest of the lion with Regulus as the heart.

It is easier to see the less bright stars in the pattern without the bright Moon so close by. Note the position of Regulus and the time. At the same time on succeeding nights Regulus will be in the same position but the Moon will be successively farther east and the backward question mark pattern will be easier to see.

Nearby is the bright and reddish planet Mars. Mars and Regulus will be drawing even closer over the next two weeks while the pattern of stars in Leo remains unchanged. The word "planet" comes from the Greek word for "wanderer".


Moon Rides with Saturn
May 22
The planet Saturn is the bright and cream colored point of light near the Moon tonight.


○ Full Moon

WunderPhoto: Howl by ChandlerMike Monday March 29, 2010
Exact at
May 27
2307 GMT
7:07pm EST
4:07pm PST.

Rises near sunset and sets near sunrise. At those times the Moon may seem huge (the Moon illusion) and unusually colored. The yellow/orange/red appearance of the moon at the horizon is at least partly for the same reason the sky appears blue!




Image from: Australian Cooperative Research Centre for Renewable Energy

The gravitational pull of the Moon accounts for about 2/3 of the influence on Earth's tides with the Sun accounting for the remaining 1/3. On this date the gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun are aligned resulting in stronger tides - higher highs, lower lows and faster flows (see SPRING-TIDES). (Due to the huge mass and volume of the ocean's water the tidal effect lags behind the phases of the Moon. The delay can be as long as three days at some times and places.)

Also see The Moon And Tides.


Cape Canaveral Delta IV Launch

Photo credit: NASA

Mission: Global Positioning System (GPS) 2F-1
Launch Vehicle: Delta IV Medium+ (4,2)
Launch from Cape Canaveral AFS, Florida
May 21
0329-0341 GMT
May 20
11:29-11:41pm EDT (local time)
8:29-8:41pm PDT.
May 22
0325-0343 GMT
May 21
11:25-11:43pm EDT (local time)
8:25-8:43pm PDT.
To Be Announced.
May 23
0321-0339 GMT
May 22
11:21-11:39pm EDT (local time)
8:21-8:39pm PDT.
May 24
0317-0335 GMT
May 23
11:17-11:35pm EDT (local time)
8:17-8:35pm PDT.
May 25
0313-0331 GMT
May 24
11:13-11:31pm EDT (local time)
8:13-8:31pm PDT.
To Be Announced.

May 28
0300-0319 GMT
May 27
11:00-11:19pm EDT (local time)
8:00-8:19pm PDT.

Launch status updates are at
Spaceflight Now | Tracking Station | Worldwide launch schedule
with more details on the launch blog at
Spaceflight Now | Delta Launch Report | Mission Status Center
as the launch approaches.

You may will find more information as the launch approaches at
United Launch Alliance
possibly including a live launch webcast
starting half an hour before the launch.


Evening Planets & Stars

Looking WSW after Dusk June 1
Image created with Stellarium (a free download).

June 1-4
The orbits of all the Solar System planets vary no more than 7° from the plane of the Earth's orbit. This plane is easy to see as soon as the sky is dark these evenings. Starting near the western horizon and stretching upward the planets Venus, Mars and Saturn form a line along this "pathway of the planets" (ecliptic). Over succeeding evenings it will be easy to see two of the planets travel along the pathway relative to the background of stars.

The bright and reddish planet Mars is currently very close to the bright and blueish star Regulus. (They are close enough that you can cover them both with your fist at arm's length. As of June 2 you can put them under your thumb held at arms length.) Mars will pass above Regulus June 6.

The brilliant white planet Venus will pass the twin stars Pollux and Castor on June 11.


Lunar Apogee (Greek apo, away from + Greek Gaia, Earth)

Exact at
June 3
1652 GMT
12:52pm EDT
9:52am PDT.

The Moon is at its farthest distance in its non circular orbit around Earth. The Moon is about 12% farther than at its closest distance (perigee - Greek peri, near + Greek Gaia, Earth) and the Moon's gravitational influence on Earth and its oceans is about 20% less (due to the inverse square law).


Cape Canaveral Falcon 9 Launch

Photo credit: SpaceX

Mission: Falcon 9/Dragon Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) Demo
Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Spacecraft: Dragon Spacecraft Qualification Unit
Launch from Cape Canaveral AFS, Florida
May 23
1700-2100 GMT
1:00-5:00pm EDT (local time)
10:00am-2:00pm PDT.
May 28
June 2
1500-1900 GMT
11:00am-3:00pm EDT (local time)
8:00am-12:00pm PDT.
No Earlier Than

June 4
1500-1900 GMT
11:00am-3:00pm EDT (local time)
8:00am-12:00pm PDT.

Launch status updates are at
Spaceflight Now | Tracking Station | Worldwide launch schedule
with more details on the launch blog at
Spaceflight Now | Falcon Launch Report | Mission Status Center
as the launch approaches.

The SpaceX F9 Webcast will begin at 10:40am EDT on launch day.


◑ Last (or Third) Quarter Moon

Exact at
June 4
2213 GMT
6:13pm EDT
3:13pm PDT.

Rises near midnight and sets near noon. Morning crescent moons for a week after. Each one thinner and closer to the eastern horizon.




Image from: Australian Cooperative Research Centre for Renewable Energy

The gravitational pull of the Moon accounts for about 2/3 of the influence on Earth's tides with the Sun accounting for the remaining 1/3. On this date the gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun are at right angles resulting in weaker tides - lower highs, higher lows and slower flows (see NEAP-TIDES). (Due to the huge mass and volume of the ocean's water the tidal effect lags behind the phases of the Moon. The delay can be as long as three days at some times and places.)

Also see The Moon And Tides.

Since lunar apogee was only 1 day and 5 hours ago tides will be even weaker than usual for a quarter moon.


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Updated: 3:34 PM GMT on June 05, 2010

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About LowerCal

Astronomy with a minimum of terminology and technology.

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APRSWXNET Woodland Hills CA US
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Dew Point: 34.0 °F
Humidity: 53%
Wind: Calm
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At Gonzales Drive
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Elevation: 984 ft
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Humidity: 52%
Wind: Calm
Wind Gust: 0.0 mph
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