Category Archives: Moon

Total Solar Eclipse From Hopkinsville, KY

What a great adventure to Tennessee and Kentucky to see the Great American Total Solar Eclipse. I viewed the celestial show from Hopkinsville, KY with several coworkers who also made the long drive.

TSE 08212017 – The moment before totality

The “solar funnel” (solar projection cone) seen below that I had made a few months back in preparation for this eclipse was a huge hit with eclipse chasers! I received many compliments and plenty of return visitors to check the progress of the partial phase.

 You can view the HD video I shot before, during and after totality below. Totality begins at about 10 minutes into the video.

You can find many more of my eclipse pictures as well as pictures of the telescopes and fellow eclipse chasers on my Total Solar Eclipse – 8/21/2017 page that I’ve added to this site. Click the link just above or navigate to Astrophotoghaphy > Eclipses > Total Solar Eclipse – 08/21/2017 on the menu in the upper left on this page.

Total Lunar Eclipse on September 27th

Get ready sky sleuths for an amazing lunar spectacle! A total lunar eclipse is coming up (weather permitting) after dark on Sunday, September 27th when the moon will turn an awesome reddish-orange as it enters the Earth’s umbra. The eclipse will be visible from most of North and South America.

Total Lunar Eclipse
Total Lunar Eclipse

Total lunar eclipses always happen at full moon. This is when the Moon is opposite in the sky as the Sun or put another way when the Earth is between the Sun and Moon. This situation allows for the Earth’s shadow to consume the Moon, and we see an eclipse.

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Total Lunar Eclipse Visible Oct. 8th

Total Lunar Eclipse 02/20/2008
Total Lunar Eclipse 02/20/2008

Early on the morning of Wednesday, October 8, 2014 there will be a total lunar eclipse visible for all of the United States. Totality begins at 5:25 a.m. CDT locally here in the DFW area. The moon will be seen (weather permitting)  low in the sky on the western horizon. Seek out a good observing location where you will have an unobstructed view of the horizon.  The Moon will be an awesome sight even from the most light polluted cities. Observers on the West Coast are better positioned for this eclipse as the moon will be higher in the sky as totality slowly plays out between 3:25 a.m. and 4:24 a.m. PDT.

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Mars @ Opposition & a Total Lunar Eclipse

This month Mars is at opposition (opposite the sun in the sky as seen from Earth). This means our planet is closer to Mars and thus Mars is brighter (-1.5 mag) in our sky, well placed for telescopic observation and generally a lot more interesting to view. Here are some keys dates. On April 8,  2014 Mars will be at opposition (distance to earth: 0.621 AU, brightness: -1.5 mag, diameter: 15.08″). On April 14, 2014 Mars makes its closest approach to Earth (distance to earth: 0.618 AU, brightness: -1.4 mag, diameter: 15.16″). This will be a great time to get out and observe the red planet through a telescope, it’s polar ice caps and light and dark regions, and also how the planet changes over time. It’s not uncommon for dust storms to occur and totally change how we see the planet.

Moon and Mars on morning of 4/15/2014
Moon and Mars in Virgo early on the morning of 4/15/2014.

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Largest Lunar Impact to Date Caught on Video

On September 11, 2013 a meteor about the size a Smart Car and weighing about 400 kg, travelling at 38,000 mph vaporized in a brilliant flash as it hit the Moon. This is the longest and brightest confirmed impact flash ever observed on the Moon. The meteor exploded with the equivalent of about 15 tons of TNT and it’s estimated that the resulting crater could be about 40 meters in diameter.

Prof. José M. Madiedo from the University of Huelva in Spain was operating two telescopes that are part of the Moon Impacts Detection and Analysis System (MIDAS) which monitors the moon’s surface for these events. At 20:07 GMT on September 11, 2013 he witnessed an unusually long and bright flash in Mare Nubium. The event lasted for about 8 seconds as the bright flash slowly faded. Watch the video above for complete details on the MIDAS project and see the actual video of the impact.

Supermoon or Super Hype?

Full Moon
Full Moon

You might have heard some talk about the “June Supermoon” that seems to be buzzing the astronomy and space news outlets on the internet. Hey! wait a minute. Wasn’t there a supermoon last month? Why yes, there was. So how super is the June supermoon and what’s the big deal anyway about the full moon that happens on June 23, 2013 at 11:32 UTC (6:32 a.m. CDT in the U.S.).

Well, this full moon is not only the closest and largest full moon of the year. It also presents the moon’s closest encounter (perigee) with Earth for all of 2013. So it’s not just a “supermoon” like we had in May but It’s the closest “supermoon” of 2013. But how super is it really?

To be honest if everybody was not making such a big deal about the biggest, most “supermoon” of 2013 happening this month then I’d venture to say that no one would even notice the difference. Yes, the Moon will be slightly (hardly noticeable) larger in the sky at full moon this month because it’s nearer to perigee than at any other time it happens to be in full phase in 2013 but that’s the extent of it really.

I like to promote astronomical happenings and often I’ll tells friends and family about cool things that they can see in the sky but I have to admit I’m a bit turned off by folks making a mountain out of a mole hill about something because they need something to write about. I also frown on suckering in the public to see a sky event that will make them walk outside and say “oh, yah, that’s a full moon. I don’t see anything “super” about it. It just looks like a full moon to me.”

Too often astronomical events come off as flops or very unspectacular to the public. The last thing I want to do is add to that. So, yes the Moon will be closer to Earth this full moon than at any other full moon phase this year and yes, it will appear very, very slightly larger in the sky but please do not expect to walk outside and have your socks blown off by the super duper moon of 2013. Having said that, please get out and enjoy the full moon of June 2013. Super or not, It’s our planet’s only natural satellite and a dozen men have walked on its surface.