Jupiter and Uranus Aligns with the ‘Super Harvest Moon’ on the night of Autumnal Equinox
In the Philippines, this year’s autumnal or fall equinox will occur on September 23, 2010 at 11:oo AM (UTC+8).
Equinox is the time when the length of night and day across the world is nearly, but not entirely, equal. The real time when there would be exactly 12 hours of sunlight and 12 hours of night usually occurs a few days after an equinox — this time it will happen on October 1. After this, Philippine nights will be longer as the Sun approaches the celestial equator.
The full moon during the night of the equinox will be extra special because for the first time in almost 20 years, northern autumn is beginning on the night of a full Moon which is called the ‘Super Harvest Moon”.
Usually, the Harvest Moon (the name for the full moon nearest the autumnal equinox) arrives a few days to weeks before or after the beginning of fall. It’s close, but not a perfect match. The Harvest Moon of 2010, however, reaches maximum illumination a mere six hours after the equinox. This has led some astronomers to call it the “Harvestest Moon” or a “Super Harvest Moon.” There hasn’t been a comparable coincidence since Sept 23, 1991, when the difference was about 10 hours, and it won’t happen again until the year 2029.
On the same night, the Harvest Moon can be found soaring high overhead with the bright planet Jupiter and fainter Uranus beside it. These objects in the night sky will be in spectacular conjunction to mark the change in seasons.
You can easily catch them in the eastern sky just a few minutes after sunset. Keep an eye on the Moon as it creeps above the eastern skyline. The golden orb may appear strangely inflated but his is just the lunar illusion at work. For reasons not fully understood by astronomers or psychologists, a low-hanging Moon appears much wider than it really is. A Harvest Moon inflated by the moon illusion is simply gorgeous.
Jupiter (still shining at -2.79 magnitude) will be less than 1 degree from fainter Uranus. You need telescopes or binoculars to see Uranus though. The full moon will be just about 10 degrees apart from these two.
Clear skies and happy viewing! 😀