Shawn here… I’m still buried in a nightmare of a paper. But it’s almost done and I promise (no, really!) that I’ll be blogging more once that’s in press. But I can’t justify spending more time on blogging while a critical paper is so close to being finished. The problem is it’s been that close for a loooong time. In the meantime, enjoy this month’s update on the moon and other astronomical stuff from Gordon Johnston… apologies for the stuff that’s already happened. Gordon sent this out last week, but I was at a meeting and it got held up in my email account.
The next full Moon will be on Wednesday evening, January 15, 2014, appearing “opposite” the Sun at 8 minutes before midnight, 11:52 pm EST. The Moon will appear full for about 3 days centered on this time, from Tuesday evening through Friday morning. Suitably celebratory celestial attire is encouraged in honor of the full Moon.
As the first full Moon of winter, this is known as the Wolf Moon. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, this name came from the packs of wolves that howled hungrily outside the Native American villages amid the cold and deep snows of winter. Another name is the Ice Moon. Some tribes called this the Snow Moon but most applied this name to the second full Moon of winter. European settlers sometimes called this the Old Moon or the Moon After Yule. On the Hindu calendar this is Paush Purnima, when “thousands of people converge at the temple town of Prayag (Allahabad) for the holy bath at Sangam – the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and Mythical Saraswati rivers” (according to the page “Holidays and Festivals In India” at URL http://holidayswa.com). For the Buddhists of Sri Lanka, this is Duruthu Poya, which commemorates Siddhartha Gautama Buddha’s first visit to Sri Lanka.
As for other celestial events between now and the full Moon after next…
In the days leading up to the full Moon on January 15, 2014, as the evening sky darkens, the bright planet Venus will have vanished in the glow of the Sun, passing between the Earth and the Sun during the evening on Friday, January 10, 2014, and reemerging before dawn as the morning star later in January 2014. In mid-January, for the Washington, DC area, evening twilight will end at about 6:12 pm EST, with the bright stars of the local arm of the Milky Way Galaxy rising in the east-southeast. By about 10 or 11 pm at night, these bright stars will be almost directly overhead, as will be the bright planet Jupiter. Jupiter appeared at its brightest for the year when it was opposite the Sun and closest to the Earth on January 5, 2014, rising at about the same time as sunset and setting about the same time as sunrise. Jupiter will remain quite bright as it shifts more and more into the evening sky.
In the mid-January morning sky the planet Mars will be high in the south and the planet Saturn in the southeast. As the month progresses Mars and Saturn will appear to shift higher into the sky and gradually brighten. Mars will be at its brightest for the year in April and Saturn at its brightest for the year in May. Venus will begin to emerge as the morning star in the east-southeast around January 18, 2013, appearing higher in the sky and becoming easier to view each morning.
Because of daylight savings time, the latest sunrises of the year will be in late October and early November, before we “Fall back” by settin our clocks back an hour. Ignoring daylight savings time, for the Washington, DC area, the latest sunrises of the year started on Monday, December 30, 2013, and will continue through Saturday, January 11, 2014, with sunrise at 7:27 am EST (rounded to the nearest minute) for these dates. Morning twilight will begin around 6:24 am EST.
This morning, Wednesday morning (EST), January 8, 2014, Near Earth Object (2014 AD16), between 8.8 and 20 meters (29 to 66 feet) in diameter, passed the Earth at about 1.5 lunar distances, traveling at 8.31 kilometers per second (~19 thousand miles per hour).
On Thursday morning (EST), January 9, 2014, Near Earth Object (2014 AE29), between 9.8 and 22 meters (32 to 72 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at about 4.1 lunar distances, traveling at 4.92 kilometers per second (11 thousand miles per hour).
On Saturday, January 11, 2014, the waxing gibbous Moon will appear near the bright star Aldebaran. They will appear to move closer together as the night progresses, and will be only about 3 degrees apart when they set at about 3:45 am EST (for the Washington, DC area, at least) on Sunday, January 12, 2014. By the time evening twilight ends on Sunday evening, the Moon will appear to have shifted to about 9 degrees the other side of Aldebaran, and they will appear to move apart as the Sunday evening progresses.
On Tuesday, January 14, 2014, the full Moon will appear about 6 degrees from the bright planet Jupiter. With Jupiter near opposition, this pairing of the Moon and Jupiter will feature the brightest Jupiter of the year. They will appear at their highest in the sky at about 11 pm EST (for the Washington, DC area).
As mentioned above, the next full Moon will be on Wednesday evening, January 15, 2014.
Saturday morning, January 18, 2014, will be the first morning (for the Washington, DC area, at least) that Venus will be (just barely) above the east-southeast horizon when morning twilight begins at around 6:22 am EST. Each morning after this Venus will appear higher in the sky. Since Venus will have just passed between the Earth and the Sun it will be quite close to the Earth, making it quite bright, but we will be seeing its dark side. With a modest telescope or pair of binoculars you will be able to see Venus as a crescent planet.
On Saturday evening, January 18, 2014, the nearly full, waning Moon will appear near the bright star Regulus. For the Washington, DC area, Regulus will rise around 7:42 pm EST, with the Moon rising about 10 minutes later. They will be at their highest in the sky at about 2:30 am Sunday morning, January 19, 2014. They will still be visible when morning twilight begins around 6:22 am EST.
On Wednesday evening, January 22, 2014, into Thursday morning, January 23, 2013, the waning gibbous Moon will appear between the planet Mars and the bright star Spica. For the Washington, DC area, Mars will rise around 11:33 pm EST, the Moon at 11:44 pm, and Spica at 11:58 pm on Wednesday evening. By Thursday morning the Moon will appear at its closest to Spica (less than a degree apart) at around 5 am EST; the Moon, Spica, and Mars will be at their highest in the sky at about 5:25 am; and morning twilight will begin around 6:20 am.
Just after midnight on Friday morning, at 12:19 am EST on January 24, 2014 (i.e., late Thursday night into Friday morning), the waning Moon will appear half full as it reaches its last quarter.
On Saturday morning, January 25, 2014, the waning crescent Moon will appear quit near the planet Saturn. For the Washington, DC area, the crescent Moon will rise around 1:49 am, with Saturn rising at about 2:20 am EST. They will continue to appear to move closer to each other until they are lost in the glow of dawn, with morning twilight beginning around 6:19 am EST.
On Sunday morning, January 26, 2014, the waning crescent Moon will appear about 8 degrees from the bright star Antares. For the Washington, DC area, the crescent Moon will rise around 2:53 am EST, with Antares rising at about 3:47 am EST. They will continue to shift higher into the sky until they are lost in the glow of sunrise, with morning twilight beginning around 6:18 am EST.
On Tuesday morning (EST), January 28, 2014, Near Earth Object (2012 BX34), between 8.0 and 18 meters (26 to 59 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at about 9.6 lunar distances, traveling at 10.00 kilometers per second (~22 thousand miles per hour).
Thursday afternoon, January 30, 2014, at 4:39 pm EST, will be the new Moon.
On Thursday afternoon, February 6, 2014, at 2:22 pm EST, the waxing Moon will appear half full as it reaches its first quarter.
On Friday evening, February 7, 2014, the waxing gibbous Moon will appear between the Pleiades star cluster and the bright star Aldebaran. For the Washington, DC area, evening twilight will end at about 6:36 pm EST, the Moon will be at its highest in the sky for the evening at about 7:01 pm, and the Moon will set at about 2:17 am on Saturday morning.
By Saturday evening, February 8, 2014, the waxing gibbous Moon will appear to to have shifted to about 6 degrees to the other side of Aldebaran. For the Washington, DC area, evening twilight will end around 6:37 pm EST, the Moon will be at its highest for the evening at about 7:49 pm, and the Moon will set around 3:09 am on Sunday morning.
On Monday afternoon (EST), February 10, 2014, Near Earth Object (2006 DP14), between 460 meters and 1.0 kilometer (0.3 to 0.6 miles) in diameter, will pass the Earth at about 6.2 lunar distances, traveling at 27.13 kilometers per second (~61 thousand miles per hour).
On Monday evening, February 10, 2014, the nearly full, waxing gibbous Moon will appear near the bright planet Jupiter. For the Washington, DC area, evening twilight will end around 6:39 pm EST, The Moon will appear at its highest point for the evening at about 9:25 pm, and the Moon will set at about 4:39 am on Tuesday morning.
The full Moon after next will be on Valentine’s Day, Friday, February 14, 2014. The bright star that will appear near the full Moon will be Regulus.