Avid skywatchers had a chance to witness tonight’s close pairing between Jupiter and the First Quarter Moon — a nice sky event that kicked off the celebration of the National Astronomy Week 2013 in the Philippines. If you look closely at Jupiter in this image, you’ll also see a hint of its 4 Galilean moons.
During the closest approach, Jupiter and the Moon were 0.5 degree apart. For comparison, the angle covered by the diameter of the full moon is about 31 arcmin or 0.5 degree.
Astronomers use angular measurements to describe the apparent size of an object, or the distance between them. Knowing how to measure angular distance is an essential skill to finding your way around the sky.
The first full moon of 2013 occurred last 26 January, Saturday.
Some call it the Wolf Moon, which the Farmer’s Almanac attributes to the Algonquins and other American Indians, under the notion that hungry wolves would howl on the outskirts of Native villages in the dead of winter.
According to EarthSky.org, the January full moon—like the July sun—”follows a high path across the sky as seen from the northern part of the globe, and a low path as seen from the southern”. Hence, it rises north of due east around sunset, climbed highest in the sky around midnight and sets north of due west around sunrise.
This happens because a full moon lies opposite the sun, mirroring the sun’s place in front of the backdrop stars for six months.
The moon can appear orange when it is low in the sky and when there are a lot of haze or dust particles in the atmosphere just like when the image above was taken. Another image below is a composite with one underexposed and one overexposed image of the moon.
Last January 22, 2013, the waxing gibbous moon appeared near the bright planet Jupiter in the evening sky.
As seen from the Philippines, the Moon and Jupiter made a close approach within roughly 5 degrees of each other. Some folks in the Southern Hemisphere, however have seen Jupiter completely disappear behind the moon – an occultation.
During this event, the Moon was at mag -12.3, and Jupiter at mag -2.6, both in the constellation Taurus.
The sky condition was mostly cloudy. When the clouds parted, I was able to a couple of wide angle images which includes the two famous star clusters in Taurus — the Hyades and the Pleiades. In another image, the moon was shot at two different exposures to show the amount of separation between it and Jupiter.
Images were taken from Bulacan, Philippines around 8:40 – 9:00 pm PHT.
Today I had a nice opportunity to spot the “Lunar X” on the First Quarter Moon! The Lunar “X” is a well-known “optical feature” on the Moon, which resembles the letter “X” when the lunar terminator is along just the right lunar longitude. The intersecting crater walls of Purbach, La Caille and Blanchinus make the illusion “X” that is only visible for a short time.
Based on my observations during the past few months, it is possible to see the Lunar X when the moon is nearly 54% illuminated.This is why you cannot see it every month. In fact, the last time I was able to image it was during October 2012.
By the way, I refer to Stellarium, a free planetarium software, to determine the lunar phase and illumination during a particular date and time for my location. Note that the values given by Stellarium may not be very exact, but they are still very useful as guides for amateur astronomers.
My first image of the Lunar X:
Both images were taken using my Canon Powershot SX40 HS camera.
A 6% illuminated waning crescent moon and the planet Venus were in a close conjunction low in the southeast just before sunrise last 10 January 2013.
The waning crescent which looks like a thin “smile” on the sky, tilted a bit to the right. The soft glow on the dark side of the moon is called the Earthshine.
I always love taking pictures of a thin crescent moon, especially when it’s also nearby another bright objects like the planet Venus. It just makes my day complete. 🙂
Full Christmas Moon or Cold Moon – 28 December 2012. Image taken from Quezon City, Philippines.
The weather has not been good here lately because of typhoon Wukong (local name: Quinta). However, tonight we were fortunate to witness this lovely full moon — the last for the year 2012.
Image was composed of 2 individual shots that were fused together to create this composite.
According to Space.com the December full moon is also called the ‘long-night’s moon’ given it’s proximity to the northern winter solstice (the time of year when nights are the longest), and thus, tonight’s lunar show will manifest for the longest amount of time in the year. In places like Manila, where moonrise occurs at 5:34 p.m. and sets at 5:55 a.m., tonight’s full moon will be visible for as long as 12 hours and 21 minutes.
Thank God the weather was more cooperative today. This was truly a nice year-ending lunar treat — a great way to cap a year of amazing sky shows.
Click on image to view larger version
Before the world ends (just kidding! LOL), here’s my lunar cycle montage 🙂 Wheew. A month’s worth of work.
It’s been said that night photography has long been the realm of the persistent, strong willed…and sleep deprived few. LOL. However, despite being challenging, it is also a very interesting and rewarding venture. With the relatively decent weather last month until early December, I decided to try and capture the moon for as many nights as I could and then create a montage showing the different phases. Trying to catch a full sequence under Philippine skies isn’t the easiest thing to do! Favorable sky conditions may only arise a few times a year so I took this opportunity.
Please take note that no image was taken during December 4, 2012 because of the thick cloud cover during that day. What I did was I used a similar image (having almost the same phase and % illumination) that I took last October 31, 2012 as a replacement to fill the whole cycle.
All individual images were taken using my trusty Canon Powershot SX40 HS superzoom camera. Had to wake up during the wee hours of the night and endure a few mosquito bites only to image each one, especially the waning crescent phases. Haha. But I’m glad I did. Time and patience has paid off. 🙂
There will be a penumbral lunar eclipse visible in the Philippines on November 28, 2012. Penumbral lunar eclipses occur when the Moon passes through Earth’s penumbral shadow.
Here are the key times for the lunar eclipse based on information from NASA:
Penumbral eclipse starts – 12:14:58 UT (8:14 p.m. PHT)
Greatest eclipse – 14:33:00 UT (10:33 p.m. PHT)
Penumbral eclipse ends – 16:51:02 UT (12:51 a.m. PHT)
(Note: Philippine time is UT+8)
Unlike partial and total lunar eclipses, penumbral eclipses are not very noticeable. It is because the change of shade to the Moon is so small that hardly any difference can be seen compared to a normal Full Moon. You will not see a chunk on the moon taken out of one side; nor you’ll see the Moon turn red (as it does during a total lunar eclipse) for it will not pass through Earth’s umbral shadow.
The start and end of the eclipse will not be visible to the naked eye and cannot be detected without special equipment, like telescopes and binoculars. In fact, it is only during about 30 minutes before and after the eclipse’s maximum that a light grey shading will be seen along the moon’s northern limb.
Although it is not that spectacular, this event still provides the opportunity to see dimming on the Moon’s surface. Moreover, it’s also nice to spot the Moon near bright Jupiter and the bright star Aldebaran in the night sky during this event.
Remember, it is quite safe to watch a lunar eclipse with the naked eye. 🙂 Clear skies and happy viewing!
A few minutes after sunset last October 18, 2012, two reddish objects were found near the waxing crescent Moon (12% illuminated) in the western sky. These two bright red objects were actually the planet Mars, and the bright star Antares in the constellation Scorpius. Mars was about 2 degrees to the upper left from the Moon, and Antares about 4 degrees to the lower left from Mars.
Mars and Antares are often mistaken for each other because of their similarity in appearance. In fact, the name Antares means “Rival of Mars” in Greek.
All photos were taken using Canon Powershot SX40 HS. Some if the images were blurry. My camera got out of focus and i didn’t notice till it was too late! 😦
Click on the images to see larger versions.
The sky was extra clear that night. Amazed by the beauty of the starry night sky, I took my camera out again and snapped this photo while walking home:
The weather condition has not been at all favorable for observing this year’s Full Harvest Moon, the full moon that comes closest to the autumnal equinox. The Moon last night can be hardly seen because it’s always obscured by clouds. Fortunately, short cloud breaks allowed me to take a few images, but the hazy sky made it difficult to get a correct focus on the moon.
The Harvest Moon has a special place in the agricultural history. Through most of the year, the moon rises each day about 50 minutes later than the day before. However, when the autumnal equinox approaches, the difference in rise times drops to about 25 to 30 minutes and even farther north, the difference is 10 to 15 minutes. As the Harvest Moon rises after sunset, this provides extra minutes of light each evening for farmers to work longer hours to harvest their crops. This is how it got its name.
Below were the images I took last September 30, 2012 using my Canon Powershot SX40 HS camera.