Casual Astronomy, Spaceflight News and Lower California Weather

Watch Venus Pass Mars, August 17-19 after Dusk  (see blog entry)                                

By: LowerCal, 2:13 AM GMT on July 27, 2010

CURRENT MOON

moon phases

CURRENT PLANETS
• Brilliant white Venus WSW after sunset, sets west mid evening
• Bright & yellowish Saturn west at dusk, sets mid evening
• Bright & reddish Mars WSW at dusk, sets west mid evening
• Brilliant off-white Jupiter rises east mid evening, SW at dawn


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


***** Links *****

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 *****

Venus Passes Mars

Image created with Stellarium, a free download.

August 17-19, after Dusk
These evenings above the western horizon the brilliant white planet Venus passes close under the bright and reddish planet Mars. To the lower right is the bright and yellowish planet Saturn. To the upper left is the bright and blueish star Spica.

Also see comment 96.


○ Full Moon

WunderPhoto: Full Moon Last Night by ralfo Sunday July 25, 2010
Exact at
August 24
1705 GMT
1:05pm EST
10:05am 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. (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.


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

Image credit: Pearson Scott Foresman

Exact at
August 25
0552 GMT
1:52am EDT
August 24
10:52pm 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).


Moon Rides with Jupiter

August 27, Mid Evening through Dawn
These mornnings the Moon will travel with the brilliant off-white planet Jupiter.


Events earlier than those listed below will be found in previous blog entries.

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

○ Full Moon

WunderPhoto: moonrise over the mountains by got2dogs Friday June 25, 2010
Exact at
July 26
0136 GMT
July 25
9:36pm EST
6:36pm 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. (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.


Mercury Meets Regulus

July 27, after Sunset
Low in the western sky about half an hour after sunset the bright and golden planet Mercury will be very close to the bright and blueish star Regulus. Binoculars may be necessary to spot Regulus and will make sightings of both objects easier.


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

Image credit: Pearson Scott Foresman

Exact at
July 28
2351 GMT
7:51pm EDT
4:51pm 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).


Mars Passes Saturn

July 29-31
These evenings the the bright and reddish planet Mars passes the bright and yellowish planet Saturn.


Moon Rides with Jupiter

July 30-31, Early Morning through Dawn
These mornnings the Moon will travel with the brilliant off-white planet Jupiter.


◑ Last (or Third) Quarter Moon

Exact at
August 3
0459 GMT
12:59am EDT
August 2
9:59pm 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. (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.


Virginia Black Brant X Launch

Image credit: NASA Sounding Rocket Operations Contract (NSROC)

Mission: 3rd stage test
Launch Vehicle: Black Brant X
Launch from Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), Wallops Island, Virginia
August 4-6
0830-1030 GMT
4:30-6:30am EDT (local time)
1:30-3:30am PDT

Launch status updates, blog and a live webcast are at
Wallops Flight Facility.

The webcast will begin at 3:30am EDT launch day.


Moon Passes (Over) the Seven Sisters

WunderPhoto: Halo Around the Moon, February 23, 2007 by stoneygirl

August 4 or 5, Early Morning
This morning (August 4 east of the International Date Line, August 5 west of the IDL) the Moon will pass near the Pleiades star cluster (The Seven Sisters). Six or seven of the stars in this cluster can be seen with the naked eye. Many more can be seen through simple binoculars.

For parts of the Fiji, Samoa and Northern New Zealand the Moon will pass over some of the stars in the Pleiades cluster.

Maps and time tables for the disappearance & reappearance of the brightest stars at some cities can be found here with a DATE-TIME of "04 Jul 10". The star names can be found in the chart below.


Image credit: NASA, ESA and AURA/Caltech


Moon Rides the Bull

August 5, before Dawn
This mornning the Moon will appear to the left of the bright and orange star Aldeberan. Alderberan is the brightest star and glaring right eye of the constellation Taurus the Bull. With binoculars you can easily see the "V" shaped pattern of stars that forms the rest of the face of the bull. This collection of stars is known as the Hyades star cluster. In the image below Aldeberan is the brightest star and the "V" shaped pattern is tipped to left.

Hyades Star Cluster

Image credit: Zbigniew Kawalec


Venus Passes Saturn

August 6-8, after Dusk
These evenings above the western horizon the brilliant white planet Venus passes the bright and yellowish planet Saturn. Venus will overtake the nearby bright and reddish planet Mars (currently to the upper left) later this month.


Thin Crescent with the Twins

August 8, before Dawn
This morning in the eastern sky a thin crescent moon will appear to the right of the brightest two stars of the constellation Gemini, Pollux lower and Castor above.


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

Exact at
August 10
0308 GMT
August 9
11:08pm EDT
8:08pm 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. (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.


Lunar Perigee (Greek peri, near + Greek Gaia, Earth)

Image credit: Pearson Scott Foresman

Exact at
August 10
1757 GMT
1:57pm EDT
10:57am PDT.

(Perigean Tides - The tidal enhancement of this perigee follows by a mere 15 hours the peak of tidal forces due to the dark moon [astronomical new moon - see previous event]. The current tidal ranges are the 3rd most extreme of this year.)

The Moon is at its closest distance in its non circular orbit around Earth. The Moon is about 10.5% closer than at its farthest distance (apogee - Greek apo, away from + Greek Gaia, Earth) and the Moon's gravitational influence on Earth and its oceans is about 25% greater (due to the inverse square law).


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

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

August 10 or 11
Low in the western sky soon after sunset.

Earliest and thinnest sightings of the new moon may be possible from South America August 10. Progressively easier sightings will be possible from the South Pacific on August 10 and then southern Asia, southern Europe, Africa and most of North Americas August 11.

See the visibility maps at Moonsighting.com.


Thin Crescent near Mercury

August 11, after Sunset
Very low in the western sky soon after sunset the thinnest crescent moon appears to the left of the bright and golden planet Mercury. Binoculars will aid in the sighting of both.


Thin Crescent near Mars, Venus & Saturn

August 12, after Dusk
In the western sky the thin crescent moon appears below the brilliant white planet Venus. The bright and yellowish planet Saturn appears right of Venus and the bright and reddish planet Mars appears above Venus.


Cape Canaveral Atlas V Launch

Photo credit: kennedyspacecenter.com

Mission & Spacecraft: AEHF-1
Launch Vehicle: Atlas V 531
Launch from Cape Canaveral AFS, Florida
August 14
1107-1306 GMT
7:07-9:06am EDT (local time)
4:07-6:06am PDT.

Launch status updates are at
Spaceflight Now | Tracking Station | Worldwide launch schedule.
More details appear on the launch blog at
Spaceflight Now | Atlas Launch Report | Mission Status Center.

As the launch date approaches you may find more information at
United Launch Alliance, Webcast.


Moon Rides with Spica

August 13-14
This evening the Moon will travel with the bright and blueish star Spica. Spica is the brightest star of the constellation Virgo the Virgin. Spica can be sighted before dark with binoculars.


◐ First Quarter Moon

Exact at
August 16
1814 GMT
2:14pm EDT
11:14am 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. (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 the Scorpion

August 17
The Moon travels tonight's sky with the bright and reddish star Antares. Antares is the brightest star and beating heart of the constellation Scorpius the Scorpion.


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Updated: 5:55 PM GMT on August 19, 2010

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