April full moon Pink in name only

April's Full Moon is the Pink Moon ( J Jacobs photo)
April’s Full Moon is the Pink Moon ( J Jacobs photo)

Start seeing what looks like a full moon on Friday. Full moons tend to look full just before their date and the day afterwards.

In 2022, April’s full moon reaches total illumination at 1:55 p.m. EDT on Saturday the 16th and will continue to appear full on Sunday. It is not a SuperMoon. The moon will appear to be larger the morning of April 19 when it will be at its perigee (closest to Earth) at 11:14 EDT.

Known as the Pink Moon, the April full moon derives its name from the season when pink creeping (moss) phlox bloom and not from an atmospheric moon color.

As with other full moon names, it echoes what is happening in nature so other names range from Breaking Ice Moon to Awakening Moon.

March’s full moon, which fell before the Spring Equinox was called the Worm Moon when worms emerge in early Spring.

But the March and April Full Moons can be the Paschal Moon depending on when the full moon falls: before or after the Spring Equinox.

The Paschal Moon is often used to determine the Easter date. So, the moon in March or April can be called the Paschal Moon. Visit the Old Farmer’s Almanac for more information on the Spring Equinox and April Full Moon. Also see Time and Date on How Easter is Determined.

The April full moon is also the Pesach Moon for the Jewish feast of Passover which begins at sundown April 15 and is celebrated with Seders on the first two evenings. Paschal is a Latinized word for Pesach.

For more Full Moon info visit NASA Solar System Exploration.

Does January full moon mark middle of winter

 

January full moon is the Wolf Moon J Jacobs photo)
January full moon is the Wolf Moon J Jacobs photo)

If you like taking photos of a full moon, get those cameras or cell phones ready Jan. 16 through Jan.18 to snap the first full moon of 2022.

Even though the moon at its fullest illumination Jan. 17 at 23.48 UTC (5:48 p.m. CST), it will appear full the day before and day after Jan. 17.

A newscaster mentioned that Jan. 17-18 marks a halfway point for winter. Well, that depends.

Meteorological winter started Dec. 1 and continues through the end of February because the meteorological seasons are divided into quarters of three months each.  In the Northern Hemisphere meteorological spring is March, April May.

A sky watching site mentioned that the last full moon was Dec. 19, 2021, two days before the Northern Hemisphere’s December solstice. For 2022, astronomical winter began December 21, 2021 and ends at the Equinox, March 20, 2022.  Time and Date has a calendar.

The astronomical calendar is based on the Earth’s rotation around the sun with seasons divided by two solstices and two equinoxes, determined by a combination of Earth’s tilt and the sun’s position over the equator.

Another feature of a full moon is its name. Folklore, typically based on animal behavior and crop cycles, calls the January full moon the Snow Moon, Hunger Moon and, most popularly, the Wolf Moon.

Animal behavior is also behind Groundhog Day. Just for fun, on Feb. 2, check out groundhog predictions of winter’s end from Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania and Woodstock Willie in Woodstock, IL (where “Groundhog Day” was filmed).

For more information visit NASA Solar System Exploration and Time and Date.

 

December full moon heralds winter

 

Full moon over Chicago (J Jacobs photo)
Full moon over Chicago (J Jacobs photo)

Don’t be surprised if a bright light wakes you this weekend. The December full moon rises very high in the sky opposite the sun at 10:36 p.m. CST Dec. 18, 2021. But the shining orb looks full and bright Friday through Monday.

In the eastern part of the northern hemisphere the high moon hour is close enough to midnight to be considered a Sunday full moon. Click Moonrise Calculator for time in your area. You can watch for the full moon just before sunset.

The December full moon has several nicknames such as the Long Night Moon and Full Cold Moon because it comes closest to the Winter Solstice (Dec. 21,2021). It marks the start of winter and is the date with the longest period of darkness. The December full moon also has a very high trajectory so it will be in the sky longer.

Other names are the Yule Moon, Winter Moon, Frost Moon and Oak Moon.

Find good source information at EarthSkyNASA Solar System Exploration, TimeandDate and Old Farmer’s Almanac.

 

Harvest Moon says fall is here

 

Full Moon in September is the Harvest Moon. ( J Jacobs photo)
Full Moon in September is the Harvest Moon. ( J Jacobs photo)

You might not have heard of the Sturgeon Moon in August or the Buck Moon in July but chances are you’ve heard of the Harvest Moon that is appearing overhead now in September.

It’s more than just a popular song.

Harvest Moon is the name some cultures, native tribes and farmers have given to the full moon that usually appears mid to late September because it rises when the sun goes down thus giving famers more light to get the crops in.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the September autumnal equinox. In 2021 that comes Sept. 22 when day and night are about equal in length. (It comes in March in the Southern Hemisphere)

You probably noticed that large golden orb already appearing above the horizon. It will be fullest and brightest Sept. 20, about 6:45 p.m. CDT. but will also appear full the following day.

If listening to TV weather reports, you are likely to hear meteorologists referencing the date as the beginning of autumnal fall but adding that meteorological fall began about 3 weeks before the September equinox on Sept. 1.

Autumnal fall ends at  the December Solstice, when astronomical winter begins. but for meteorologists the fall season ends Nov. 30.

Check Time and Date for more more equinox information and go to the Old Farmer’s Almanac for more full moon facts and folklore.

 

 

The Perseid meteor shower is back

 

The Perseids produce more than 40 meteors per hour. (Photo courtesy of NASA)

Put August 11 on your calendar to watch the night sky. The best meteor shower of the year, the Perseids, will be entertaining night sky watchers with at least  40 fireballs an hour when they peak next week. However, they have been known to rack up as many as 100 meteors per hour.

As debris from comet Swift-Tuttle, the Perseid Meteor Shower occurs  annually when earth’s orbit takes it near the comet’s path from the end of July to mid-August. The meteors are already zooming across the sky but in 2021 the peak is Aug. 11-13.

If you like company or have trouble seeing them, tune into NASA which has invited everyone to watch with them. Watch time is Aug. 11-12 from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. CDT on FacebookTwitter and YouTube.

If weather is a problem,  there is likely to be a second chance Aug. 12-13. The livestream is hosted by the Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

A crescent moon will be setting early so moonlight shouldn’t be a factor. Watch between midnight and  dawn away from city lights. Some folks  stretch out on blankets but if the ground is dewy damp pull out a lawn chair.

Don’t worry if you don’t see any meteors right away. It takes a few minutes to adapt to the night sky. The meteor shower radiant appears to be above Perseus.

Good sky-watching references include Time and Date and Earth and Sky.

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June Supermoon connected to honeymoon and roses

Full moon seen in Chicago. ( J Jacobs photo)
Full moon seen in Chicago. ( J Jacobs photo)

The Supermoon looming large at the horizon June 24, 2021 is the “Strawberry Moon.”  It is also called the “Roses Moon.”  Either name implies a reddish or rosé colored moon. It may take on that hue as it rises  similar to a sunrise or sunset because of the time of year.

At the Summer Solstice the sun is high in the sky and the moon is low. Thus the moon will be seen through enough more of the atmosphere to appear to have a tinge of color.

Full moons are given names of crops, animal behavior and farming lore appropriate for their time of year. But not as well known is the connection to honey.

According to some NASA findings on European full moon names, the June full moon is also called the “Mead Moon” and “Honey Moon.. Also noted is that the term “honeymoon” goes back to the 1500s in Europe.

Expect to see the moon appearing full Wednesday through Friday. It’s listed by some sky publications as a “Supermoon” because its orbit takes it close (perigee) to earth.

For good info on perigee, Supermoons and new moons that are full visit Time and Date.

Early bird catches a partial solar eclipse Thursday

Lunar and solar eclipse (Photo courtesy of NASA)
Lunar and solar eclipse (Photo courtesy of NASA)

Folks in northern Canada can catch  the best part of June 10’s  eclipse event as the new moon’s orbit moves it across the sky to block the sun.

In the US, the best areas to see it are north and east such as in New York City where the eclipse magnitude will be 80 percent and last for more than an hour after sunrise. .

Chicago area residents will be able to see an eclipse, it just will be a partial one and not last long. Thus, the best way to catch it is after getting protective glasses or using an alternative viewing method, to look to the horizon when the sun appears.

That means watching beginning at 5:15 a.m. through 5:39 a.m. Compared to the north east including NYC’s high magnitude, Chicago’s magnitude will be 35 percent at 5:18 a.m.

Two good sites for information on this solar eclipse event are Time and Date and Space.

Coming Eclipse Season features a remarkable Supermoon

Lunar and solar eclipse (Photo courtesy of NASA)
Lunar and solar eclipse (Photo courtesy of NASA)

 

Maybe you think of winter, spring, summer and fall as your year’s seasons but astronomers also have at least one other seasonal time frame: Eclipse Season. It is the short period when a lunar eclipse and a solar eclipse happen near each other.

Coming up is a short lunar eclipse on May 26, 2021. Don’t blink because you may miss it.

It is called short because totality lasts just a bit more than 14 minutes. According to astronomers, that is the 10th shortest totality for a lunar eclipse between the years 1600 and 2599.

To better understand what will be happening,  know that during the lunar eclipse a full moon will be moving through the Earth’s umbral shadow and be fully in that shadow for slightly more than 14 minutes. But the entire movement through the shadow will be about three hours.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac explains that the part of the United States where you are watching the eclipse will matter as to totality with west of the Mississippi River better than east.

But as TV commercials say Wait. The eclipse is just part of May’s lunar special event. Because the May full moon’s orbit takes it closer to Earth than the year’s other full moons, it will be 2021’s best and brightest Supermoon. During the eclipse, it will appear as a blood moon.

The lunar event is followed by an annular solar eclipse on June 10. That eclipse’s partial phases will make it the 5th longest worldwide for an annular solar eclipse that happens in the same season as a total lunar eclipse.

But forget about blinking. Proper glasses or other safety precautions are needed to protect your eyesight.

EarthSky has an excellent summary of Eclipse Season. Also see Time and Date  for information on both the lunar and solar eclipses this year and in the future.

 

 

Meteorites skim planet Earth this week

Meteor Shower photo courtesy of NASA
Meteor Shower photo courtesy of NASA

The Eta Aquarids, the first half of Halley’s Comet’s two rounds of meteor showers, peak May 4-6, 2021. The two meteor showers are debris from Comet Halley as Earth  passes through the comet’s path around the Sun.

Seen in both hemispheres, the Southern Hemisphere arguably offers a better view now when its radiant, the Aquarius constellation, is overhead and Northern is better for its second round, the Orionids, in October. But both meteor showers are popular with sky watchers.

After acclimating your sight to the night, look in the southern sky for Eta Aquarii, the constellation’s brightest star. Depending on the weather, you may be treated to more than 30 meteorites per hour.

The moon, now in its waning crescent phase should not be a factor, particularly if watching for the meteorites early on May 6 before dawn.

For moon phases visit Moon Phases 2021 – Lunar Calendar (timeanddate.com). For times to watch in your area, check Time and Date. For more information visit NASA In Depth. For more Eta Aquarid and Comet Halley info see Space.

 

Supermoon

Full moon over Chicago (J Jacobs photo)
Full moon over Chicago (J Jacobs photo)

Forget about turning off the light that may be keeping you up on April 26-27. It’s streaming in through the windows from upstairs, outside. However, the source will have seemed larger earlier in the evening.

What’s shining through the windows if the sky is clear, is not merely a full moon. The orb outside is a Supermoon. It really isn’t larger. It just plays tricks on the eyes and perspective as it appears huge when first appearing at the horizon and in early evening.

The April full moon, also known as the “Pink Moon”  is a Supermoon because it will be closer to Earth than most other full moons. The exception being the full moon in May 26, called the “Flower Moon” that will be even closer.

Some astronomy sites only designate the April and May full moons  as Supermoons. Other sites include June 24’s which is also close. Still other sites include the March full moon which was fairly close.

For times to watch or photograph the moon check. EarthSky. The site also has the April, May June, 2021 Supermoons’ distances from the moon to Earth with April 27 at 222,212 miles (357,615 km), May 26 at 222,089 miles (357,462km) and June 24 at 224,662 miles (361,558 km).

If interested in how this all happens, you should know about the lunar perigee. It’s when the moon’s orbit brings it to its closest point to Earth. The opposite is apogee.

Of course, the third factor is where the earth is in relation to the moon and the sun to be a full moon. So, the April Supermoon actually happens about 12 hours short of it lunar perigee and May’s Supermoon falls about nine hours after perigee. The reason some sites refer just to April and May’s full moons as Supermoons is because less than 24 hours occur between the perigee and full moon phase.

Next, don’t be surprised if bothered with sinus trouble and  have a full-moon sized headache. Because the pull of the full moon, particuclarly the Supermoon, does influence the tides, lore has it that their affect on humans and animals can also be felt.

For more information visit Time and Date and see TimeandDate /picture tips and visit NASA. moons. For an expert opinion on which full moons to include in the Supermoon category, visit Space.