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The Moon was new on July 16. Its familiar nearside facing the surface of planet Earth was in shadow. But on that date a million miles away, the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) spacecraft's Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) captured this view of an apparently Full Moon crossing in front of a Full Earth. In fact, seen from the spacecraft's position beyond the Moon's orbit and between Earth and Sun, the fully illuminated lunar hemisphere is the less familiar farside. Only known since the dawn of the space age, the farside is mostly devoid of dark lunar maria that sprawl across the Moon's perpetual Earth-facing hemisphere. Only the small dark spot of the farside's Mare Moscoviense (Sea of Moscow) is clear, at the upper left. Planet Earth's north pole is near 11 o'clock, with North America visited by Hurricane Dolores near center. Slight color shifts are visible around the lunar edge, an artifact of the Moon's motion through the field caused by combining the camera's separate exposures taken in quick succession through different color filters. While monitoring the Earth and solar wind for space weather forecasts, about twice a year, DSCOVR can capture similar images of Moon and Earth together as it crosses the orbital plane of the Moon. Image courtesy NASA, NOAA/DSCOVR

EYES TO THE SKY: Full Green Corn Moon tonight, planet Venus mornings, Perseids

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By Monday, Aug 7, 2017 Learning 1

August 7 – 20, 2017

“In astronomy, a syzygy (…from the Ancient Greek …. suzugos meaning “yoked together”) is a straight-line configuration of three celestial bodies in a gravitational system.” –Wikipedia

Begins to rise in the east on August evenings. Courtesy EarthSky.org

Begins to rise in the east on August evenings. Courtesy EarthSky.org

Mount Washington — Find a perch with a panoramic view from which to participate this evening in a celestial alignment that is also a syzygy. The Full Green Corn Moon rises in the east-southeast at 8:06 p.m. opposite the Sun that, at the same moment, sets on the west-northwest horizon; planet Earth is in between. We Earthlings can experience being aligned with the motions of the sun on one side of our bodies and the moon on the other.

Those of us unable to get to a location with an unobstructed view for this occasion will see the sun disappear earlier and the moon rise above the hilly terrain later than 8:06 p.m. as twilight gathers.

As the sky darkens, all of us will see the brightest stars and planets appear. Glancing to the right, south and higher than the moon, golden planet Saturn is visible. To the right of Saturn, see Antares, the twinkling red star that is the heart of Scorpius the Scorpion. Directly above Luna, yellow-white star Altair leads the eye up to brilliant Vega and, to Vega’s left, Deneb, creating the Summer Triangle.

Moonlight washes out lower magnitude stars until Thursday or Friday, the 10th or 11th. By then, the moon comes up later. Look for the Great Square of Pegasus as it rises in the east at nightfall and travels the skies all night. Conversely, the light of a bright late-night and early-morning moon interferes with the peak of the Perseid meteor shower overnight Friday and Saturday, August 11-12 or 12-13.

The waning crescent moon swings close to the dazzling planet Venus on August 18 and 19.

The waning crescent moon swings close to the dazzling planet Venus on August 18 and 19.

Daybreak comes late enough these days to avail ourselves of the beauty of planet Venus as the shining Morning Star. This week, by 5:20 a.m., look to the east about 20 degrees above the horizon, still rather high. The goddess planet is visible until about 5:30 a.m. if you know where to look. Be aware that sunrise on the 8th is at 5:53 a.m. and 13 minutes later, at 6:06 a.m. on the 20th.

August 21, the date of the next “Eyes to the Sky” column, coincides with the Great American Solar Eclipse. I’m compelled to reiterate here the details of this celestial event as it will transpire here in the Berkshires. See my June 26 column for more information. Quoted from that edition:

“In our backyard, the partial eclipse begins at about 1:25 p.m. on Monday the 21st of August.….. At maximum eclipse, 2:45 p.m., the Sun will be a crescent of light, 72 percent darkened. That’s 1 hour 20 minutes from inception to peak. It will take another 1 hour 15 minutes for the sun to return to full: the partial eclipse ends at 3:58 p.m.”

Eyes must be protected from the Sun’s light if you are to look directly at it or, alternatively, by devising ways to see it indirectly. Inexpensive cardboard-framed sunlight filtering glasses are readily available, as are instructions for creating devices for solar projection.





Opportunity to participate

August 21, Mason Library, Great Barrington, free eclipse glasses and solar viewing. Details to follow.

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  1. Gwen says:

    Today is January 20th. And I am up in Canada 🙂 when I look at the Moon it is incredible but it almost looks like there is a small green planet in front of the Moon and then the moon itself only shows as a quarter. I’m wondering if anyone else is seeing this green phenomena? And what is it is it Saturn in front of the Moon. I’m trying to get a good picture of it but of course my camera will not discern the Green from the actual shadow

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