Thursday, 1 August 2013

High Moon

When I went out to get the newspapers this morning I noticed the Moon was high up. And the reason for this is that it was in Taurus (images from Heavens Above):

Why is this? The Moon lies near the ecliptic - the Sun's path with regards to the stars - and when it's at its greatest northern declination (the equivalent of latitude on the Earth) it'll be in Taurus, or in Gemini (where there are currently 3 planets in the dawn sky - Mercury, Mars and Jupiter):

If the Moon is some way north of the ecliptic (it doesn't follow the ecliptic exactly), then it might be in Auriga:

While if it is some way south of the ecliptic then it can be in Orion (as it will be on Saturday):

But when does it reach this point?:

Time of Year Moon highest
Vernal equinox First Quarter
Summer solstice New Moon
Autumnal equinox Lsst Quarter
Winter solstice Full Moon

Now, of course, you're rarely going to get the full Moon exactly at a solstice, or anything like that, but we can see that between the summer solstice and the autumnal equinox (i.e. at this time of year), the Moon will be highest when it is between last quarter and new Moon - so when it is a waning crescent.

This summer has 4 full Moons - the next one (21 August) is a Blue Moon and the one after that is the Harvest Moon. About a week or so after those go and look for the Moon in the sky after sunrise.

This autumn there are 3 full Moons:

  • 0.38am (Central European Time/British Summer Time) on 19 October
  • 3.16pm (Universal Time/Greenwich Mean Time) on 17 November
  • 9.28am on 17 December

In the week or so after that, go out in the morning and look for the waning gibbous high in the sky.

No comments:

Post a Comment