Tag Archives: Moon

Möbius Arch Moonrise

The waning gibbous moon (95% illumination, 2 days past full) is diffused by thin clouds as it rises over the Alabama Hills and the famed Möbius Arch.

Image Credit & Copyright: Laurie Hatch

Only two days past full, February’s moon shines through thin clouds, rising on the left in this fisheye night skyscape. The moonlight illuminates a weathered, rounded foreground in the Alabama Hills, conveniently located east of Mt. Whitney along the Sierra Nevada range in California, USA, planet Earth. Orion the Hunter stands at the right, a familiar northern winter constellation. Bright Jupiter, the solar system’s ruling gas giant, is near center at the top of the frame. Below Jupiter, Sirius, alpha star of the Big Dog, poses above a bowed and twisted landform known as Möbius Arch, its curve reminiscent of the mathematically famoussurface with only one side. Of course, instead of using rock, wind, and weather, a Möbius strip is easier to make with paper, scissors, and tape.

NASA APOD 28-feb-2014

Daytime Moon Meets Morning Star

Image Credit & Copyright: Cui Yongjiang and Shi Zexing

Venus now appears as planet Earth’s brilliant morning star standing above the eastern horizon before dawn. For most, the silvery celestial beacon rose in a close pairing with an old crescent Moon on February 26. But seen from locations in western Africa before sunrise, the lunar crescent actually occulted or passed in front of Venus, also in a crescent phase. Farther to the east, the occultation occurred during daylight hours. In fact, this telescopic snapshot of the dueling crescents was captured just before the occultation began under an afternoon’s crystal clear skies from Yunnan Province, China. The unforgettable scene was easily visible to the naked eye in broad daylight.

NASA APOD 27-feb-2014

Lunar Time Lapse Panorama including Yutu Rover

Image Credit: CNSA, Chinanews, Kenneth Kremer & Marco Di Lorenzo

Where has the Yutu rover been on the Moon? Arriving in 2013 mid-December, the Chinese Yutu robotic rover has spent some of the past month and a half exploring Mare Imbrium on Earth’s Moon. Because it uses solar power, the mechanical Jade Rabbit goes into sleep mode to endure the two-week long lunar night. Pictured above is a digitally created time-lapse composite panorama showing the region surrounding the Chang’e 3 lander, capturing the desk-sized rover in three positions. On the far right, Yutu is seen heading south to investigate greener pastures, likely never to return to its lander again.

NASA APOD 03-Feb-2014

From the Northern to the Southern Cross

Image Credit & Copyright: Nicholas Buer

Explanation: There is a road that connects the Northern to the Southern Cross but you have to be at the right place and time to see it. The road, as pictured above, is actually the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy; the right place, in this case, is dark Laguna Cejar in Salar de Atacama of Northern Chile; and the right time was in early October, just after sunset. Many sky wonders were captured then, including the bright Moon, inside theMilky Way arch; Venus, just above the Moon; Saturn and Mercury, just below the Moon; the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds satellite galaxies, on the far left; red airglow near the horizon on the image left; and the lights of small towns at several locations across the horizon. One might guess that composing this 30-image panorama would have been a serene experience, but for that one would have required earplugs to ignore the continuedbrays of wild donkeys.
NASA APOD 27-Jan-2014

Micro Moon over Super Moon

Image Credit: Stefano Sciarpetti
Explanation: Did you see the big, bright, beautiful Full Moon last Wednesday night? That was actually a Micro Moon! On that night, the smallest Full Moon of 2014 reached its full phase only a few hours from lunarapogee, the time of its the most distant point from Earth in the Moon’s elliptical orbit. Of course, last year on the night of June 22, a Full Super Moon was near perigee, the closest point in its orbit. The relative apparent sizeof January 15’s Micro Moon is compared to the June 22 Super Moon in the above composite image digitally superimposing telescopic images from Perugia, Italy. The difference in apparent size represents a difference in distance of just under 50,000 kilometers between apogee and perigee, given the Moon’s average distance of about 385,000 kilometers. How long do you have to wait to see another Full Micro Moon? Until March 5, 2015, when the lunar full phase will again occur within a few hours of lunar apogee.

NASA APOD 21-Jan-2014

Apogee’s Full Moon

Image Credit & Copyright: Rick Baldridge

This big, bright, beautiful Full Moon rose over Lick Observatory Wednesday night. Traditionally a full moon in January might be called the Wolf Moon. But this moon reached its full phase on January 16, 4:54 UT, within about 2 hours of apogee, the most distant point in its elliptical orbit around planet Earth. That also makes it the smallest full moon of 2014. Of course the difference in apparent size between the largest and smallest full moons is hard to see, because the difference in distance between lunar apogee and perigee, or closest point in the Moon’s orbit, is only about 50,000 kilometers, while the Moon’s average distance is around 385,000 kilometers. Though not by much, this apogee’s full moon was also the smallest full moon of the last 1,000 years. It will keep that distinction until a slightly smaller full moon occurs close to apogee in 2154.

APOD NASA 18-Jan-2014

A Colorful Moon

Image Credit & Copyright: László Francsics
The Moon is normally seen in subtle shades of grey or yellow. But small, measurable color differences have been greatly exaggerated to make this telescopic, multicolored, moonscape captured during the Moon’s full phase. The different colors are recognized to correspond to real differences in the chemical makeup of the lunar surface. Blue hues reveal titanium rich areas while orange and purple colors show regions relatively poor in titanium and iron. The familiar Sea of Tranquility, or Mare Tranquillitatis, is the blue area in the upper right corner of the frame. White lines radiate across the orange-hued southern lunar highlands from 85 kilometer wide ray crater Tycho at bottom left. Above it, darker rays from crater Copernicus extend into the Sea of Rains (Mare Imbrium) at the upper left. Calibrated by rock samples from the Apollo missions, similar multicolorimages from spacecraft have been used to explore the Moon’s global surface composition.

NASA APOD 19-dec-2013

Moon online. December 16, 2013

The Moon is the only celestial body other than Earth on which humans have set foot. The Soviet Union’s Luna programme was the first to reach the Moon with unmanned spacecraft in 1959; the United States’ NASA Apollo program achieved the only manned missions to date, beginning with the first manned lunar orbiting mission by Apollo 8 in 1968, and six manned lunar landings between 1969 and 1972, with the first being Apollo 11. These missions returned over 380 kg of lunar rocks, which have been used to develop a geological understanding of the Moon’s origins, the formation of its internal structure, and its subsequent history.

Meade LX200 16”
SBIG 8300m + filters baader
Exp.: 0.12
Crescent Moon: 99 % of visibility.

Observatory SPONLI

Yutu Rover Rolls onto the Moon


Image Credit: Chinese National Space Administration, Xinhuanet

A new desk-sized rover has begun exploring the Moon. Launched two weeks ago by the Chinese National Space Administration, the Chang’e 3 spacecraft landed on the Moon yesterday and deployed the robotic rover. Yutu, named for a folklore lunar Jade Rabbit, has a scheduled three-month mission to explore several kilometers inside the Sinus Iridum (Latin for “Bay of Rainbows”) impact crater. Yutu’s cameras and spectrometers will investigate surface features and composition while ground penetrating radar will investigate deep soil structure. Chang’e 3 achieved the first soft Moon landing since the Soviet Union’s Luna 24 in 1976, and Yutu is the first lunar rover deployed since the USSR’s Lunokhod 2 in 1973. Pictured above, Yutu was imaged from its lander yesterday soon after rolling onto the Moon.