This year all eyes will turn to the Moon to mark the 50th Anniversary of the first Moon landing. The Moon is the natural first target for new amateur astronomers, yet all too often as observers become seasoned, the Moon becomes a nuisance that blots the stars from the sky. This week we explore the Moon through the eyes and talented hands of Michel Deconinck. As you will see, there is much to see in the monthly dance between shadow and light on the lunar surface.
Michel Deconinck is an artist in the South of France with a passion for astronomical watercolors. He is very involved with the international astronomical community and his artistic works have been published in magazines, scientific journals, and displayed at conferences and school events. His artistry is augmented with a background in nuclear physics, engineering and astrophysics.
The premier event of 2019 awaits the end of the year when Mercury appears to pass over the face of the sun (as seen from Earth) on November 11thfrom 12:35 to 18:04 UT. Due to its diminutive size — only 10-arc-seconds in diameter — eclipse glasses over your eyes will not do: you’ll need a properly solar filtered telescope, binocular, or telephoto lens to view it (see Viewing/Imaging Resources at bottom). Don’t miss it as the next transit of Mercury won’t be until 2032.
Mars will exceed 24-arc-sec in diameter between July 23rd and August 9th, 2018. This is 97 percent of the maximum of 25.13-arc-sec diameter attained during the last of the ‘favorable’ apparitions, which occurred in 2003.Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers
Most amateur astronomers will ignore the full moon. The best telescopic observations can be had before and after the moon is full. For instance, when the moon is half-illuminated, at first quarter, as it waxes toward full. Along the night and day terminator line bisecting the moon are the boldly cast shadows of mountains, craters, rilles, and basins. This is where your telescopic lunar observations should begin.
The “supermoon” — a full moon that occurs when the moon is nearest the earth — seems to garner a lot of media attention. Very little scrutiny is paid to the occurrences of “micromoon” — an appellation bestowed when the full moon occurs at the furthest reaches of its orbit. Just Google “supermoon” and you’ll get 10-million results vs. a paltry 45,000 for “micromoon”. But the micromoon offers an interesting contrast to the supermoon. Continue reading “June 9th: Night of the “Micromoon””
On the night of March 4/5, the dark side of the first-quarter Moon will slide though the Hyades (open cluster) in Taurus and cover several bright stars before moving on to occult The Bull’s eye: the red-giant star Aldebaran (α-Tauri). Continue reading “The Moon in the “Bull’s Eye””