astronomy

Wayne Wooten: August Skies Of The Gulf Coast

Jul 31, 2020
EAAA Member Mike Aitken

For August 2020, waxing gibbous moon passes 1.5 degrees south of Jupiter on Aug. 1, then two degrees south of Saturn the next evening. The full moon, the Green Corn Moon, occurs on Aug. 3. On Aug. 9, the waning gibbous moon passes 1.5 degrees south of rapidly brightening Mars in the dawn sky.  The last quarter moon is Aug. 11, and will not interfere much with the peak of the Perseid meteor shower on the next two mornings.  You may see about a meteor a minute streaming out of the northeast sky after midnight.  The waning crescent moon passes four degrees north of half-lit Venus on Aug.

Wayne Wooten: June Skies Of The Gulf Coast

Jun 4, 2020
EAAA Member Scott Gottilla

For June 2020, the Full Moon, the Honey Moon, occurs on June 5.  The waning gibbous moon passes below Jupiter in the dawn sky on June 8, and Saturn on the 9th. The last quarter moon and brightening Mars rise about midnight on June 13.  The most spectacular conjunction of June is the very thin waning crescent moon joining newly visible Venus (also a slender crescent in binocs!) in the dawn on June 19.

May Skies Of The Gulf Coast

Apr 24, 2020
Courtesy Photo

For May 2020, the first quarter moon occurs on April 30, and the Full Moon, the Rose Moon, occurs on May 8.  The waning gibbous moon passes two degrees south of bright Jupiter on May 12, and then three degrees south of fainter Saturn a few hours later.  The last quarter moon passes three degrees south of Mars in the morning sky on May 14.  New moon is on May 22.  The evening of May 23 will give us a fine conjunction in the west about 7:30 p.m., with the thin crescent moon to the lower left of brighter Venus, and fainter Mercury will be above them.

Wayne Wooten: January Skies Of The Gulf Coast

Dec 30, 2019

For January 2020, the Quadrantid meteor shower will peak on the morning of Saturday, January 4 about 2 a.m.  Expect perhaps 20 to 30 meteors per hour coming out of the northeast.  Unlike most meteor showers made of decaying comets, this one’s origin is the “clay comet” asteroid Phaeton, which as its name implies, gets so close to the Sun its surface melts and sputters into space.  We have recently learned the asteroid Bennu, now orbited by NASA’s Orisis-REX, also has such surface activity!  The first quarter moon, setting about midnight, will not interfere, so bundle up.

Wayne Wooten: December Skies Of The Gulf Coast

Dec 3, 2019

The first quarter moon is Dec. 3. As Jupiter disappears into bright twilight by mid-December, Venus is still moving away from the Sun and passes within two degrees south of Saturn on December 11. The Full Moon, the Yule Moon, is also that Wednesday evening. The waning gibbous moon will interfere with the peak of the Geminid meteor shower on the morning of Dec. 14.The last quarter moon is on Dec. 18.

Wayne Wooten: November Skies Of The Gulf Coast

Oct 30, 2019

The moon is a slender waxing crescent for Halloween setting in the west about the time that trick or treaters should be getting worn out. So get out the scopes and give your guests a telescopic treat as well, with Jupiter just south of the moon, and Saturn east of them in the western twilight.  

Wayne Wooten: October Skies Of The Gulf Coast

Oct 1, 2019

For October 2019, the waxing crescent moon passes bright Jupiter on October 3. It is first quarter on October 5, to the lower right of Saturn. Full moon, the Hunter’s Moon, is October 13. Last quarter is October 20. New Moon is October 27, which means that by Halloween, the waxing crescent moon will again be close to Jupiter right after sunset for a telescopic treat for the neighborhood kids, so get out the telescope and the Milky Way bars.

Wayne Wooten: September Skies Of The Gulf Coast

Aug 31, 2019

For September 2019, the moon will be first quarter on September 2, just to the west of Jupiter.  Two days later the waxing gibbous moon is just west of Saturn.  The full moon, the Harvest Moon, is on September 14.  The Autumnal Equinox begins fall at 2:50 a.m. on September 23.  The last quarter moon is on September 21 and the new moon on September 28.

Wayne Wooten: August Skies Of The Gulf Coast

Jul 30, 2019
Kay Forrest

For August 2019, the first quarter moon is on August 7.  The waxing gibbous moon passes two degrees north of Jupiter on August 9.  On the morning of Aug. 12, the moon will occult (cover) Saturn, but only for observers west of us. 

Wayne Wooten: July Skies Of The Gulf Coast

Jun 28, 2019
Kay Forrest

For July 2019, the new moon occurs on July 2. On the 3rd, the very young crescent lies below the planets Mars and Mercury in twilight, about 40 minutes after sunset, use binoculars. The next evening, the waxing crescent is to the upper left of the planets; Mars is fainter, to the right, and brighter Mercury to the left.

Skies For The Gulf Coast

Apr 10, 2019

For April 2019, the waning crescent moon will be just south of Venus in the dawn an hour before sunrise on April 1.  The next morning, it will be below Venus and south of fainter Mercury 30 minutes before dawn.  Binoculars will help spot elusive Mercury.  The New moon is April 5, with the waxing crescent moon south of the Pleaides and Mars on the evening of April 8.  The Full Moon, the Paschal Moon following the Vernal Equinox, is on April 19, and sets the following Sunday, April 21, as the date for Easter this year.  On April 23, the Waning gibbous moon is close to Jupiter in the morning s

NASA

Are we alone in the universe?  The discovery of TRAPPIST-1 and its seven Earth-like planets could be moving the needle on the answer.

The TRAPPIST-1 star system is relatively close to our solar system, about 40 light years, or 235 trillion miles, away in the constellation Aquarius. And, because they are not in our celestial neighborhood, they’re called “exoplanets.”

NASA

Five years and 540 million miles after launch, the solar-powered spacecraft Juno has reached Jupiter.
It took 48 minutes for Juno’s radio signal to reach Earth. But despite concerns over electronic-frying radiation and potentially damaging debris in the planet’s ring, it safely reduced speed and slid into orbit late Monday.
“Juno, the wife of Jupiter, was always looking for what paramours and other secrets,” said Wayne Wooten, an astronomer at Pensacola State College. “That’s what Juno is going to be probing for – Jupiter’s deeply-hidden secrets.”

NASA.gov

  Mars and Earth are getting a bit chummier this month, as the Red Planet moves to its closest distance in more than a decade. 

Mars’ position – just under 47 million miles from Earth – is called “opposition” That’s when the sun, Earth and Mars are in a straight line with Mars rising in the east just as the sun sets in the west.   

“Opposition is the same thing as a full moon,” said Pensacola State College astronomer Wayne Wooten. But, because of Earth’s slightly elliptical orbit, Earth is still getting even a little closer to Mars.

Photo via Flickr// Marc West / https://flic.kr/p/9HbSJi

If you’re up a little before dawn over the next month, you may want to go outside and view another celestial treat, compliments of most of the solar system.

Five planets will span the sky together in the early morning hours: Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Mars, and Jupiter will all be visible to the naked eye from January 20 to February 20.

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