Photo of the Week.Morning twilight, reflected in a
pond, begins a new day.
Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, September 26,
The Moon grows this week through its waxing
gibbous phase, climbing through Aquarius then reaching full
Moon in Pisces the morning
of Wednesday, October 8, when we get to see a dramatic total lunar eclipse about the time of Moonset in North
America. Along the east coast, the Moon sets around the end of totality, while for much of the middle of
the country, the Moon sets while it is leaving total shadow.
Farther west, lucky observers get to see the whole thing as the
Moon goes down in the west. The Moon enters total shadow at 4:15
AM CDT, then becomes completely immersed at 5:25 AM, with mid-
eclipse passed at 5:55 AM. While in total eclipse, the Moon is
still dimly visible as a result of the Earth's atmosphere throwing
sunlight into the planet's shadow. The Moon leaves totality at
6:24 AM and leaves the dark shadow behind at 7:34. Add an hour
for EDT, subtract an hour for MDT, two hours for PDT. You can get
a fine view with the Moon high in the sky from Hawaii.
In eastern North America, if you have a very flat horizon, you
might see a most-unusual event, the eclipsed Moon and the rising
at the same time! Just as remarkable, during total eclipse the
Moon will lie about a degree north of Uranus, the distant planet visible in binoculars down and to the
left of the setting lunar disk. Coincidences abounding, just a
day before the eclipse Uranus goes through opposition with the Sun
on its small
retrograde (westerly) track. On lesser notes, our companion
moves five degrees north of Neptune on Sunday the 5th, and glides
through perigee, where
it is closest to the Earth, on Monday the 6th. During what
remains of the week, the Moon reverses itself into the waning gibbous phase.
The rest seems almost anti-climactic. We can pretty much forget
which sets just before the end of evening twilight. Mars,
though, stays with us, not setting 'till 9:30 PM as it enters the
southern extension of the non-zodiacal constellation Ophiuchus east of Scorpius and starts to bottom out,
for quite some time staying as far below the celestial equator (now more than 24
degrees) as it can get. The glory of the planetary sky is Jupiter, which unmistakably launches itself
above the eastern horizon around 2:30 AM, the planet near the
border between Cancer to the west and Leo to the east.
Look in the northeastern evening sky to see the "W" of Cassiopeia climbing high. There is little between it
and the North Celestial Pole and Polaris but the northern tip of
Cassiopeia's husband Cepheus,
the King. Though dim itself, the constellation contains some of the
most luminous and largest stars of the sky, including Herschel's Garnet Star, named after
the discoverer of Uranus, which is so prominently featured above.