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


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.”


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.”

  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 /

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.

There's a meteor shower on tap for this weekend, and it might even turn into a full-fledged meteor storm. But you’ll have to get up pretty early to watch it.

Between one and three o’clock Central time Saturday morning Earth will pass by debris from Comet 209P/Linear, which orbits between us and Jupiter. That dusty debris is what creates the meteor shower. The shower could as many as one hundred shooting stars per hour in the skies over northwest Florida.