Our Moon for March 17th through March 20th, 45 minutes after sunset with Mercury and Venus.
Next Full "Blue" Moon will be on March 31st. This is the second time this year we have had a blue Moon!
Next New Moon will be on April 15th
The software for this image is free and can be found at http://www.stellarium.org/.
It's also great to use if you want to know what the Moon looks like three days or three years from now.
It's very easy to use! (My fireflies are rugged in all weather conditions!)
Venus in the Evening Sky for 2018 from February through November - part 1
Venus reached superior conjunction on January 8th. That means Venus was closest to the Sun on the 8th (as seen from Earth), and after that date, Venus is returning to the evening sky for most of 2018. Each frame for each day is set for 30 minutes after sunset. Venus is magnified at each point in its orbit where the illumination of the disk is at some multiple of 10. For example, on April 23rd, Venus will be at 90% illumination (as seen from Earth). On June 1st, Venus will be at 80% and on June 30th, 70% and so on.
Mercury can be seen three times in the evening twilight this year, above the horizon, between February through November in this animation. For example, Mercury II can be seen from the middle of June till near the end of July. Mercury III shows Mercury showing up on the second week of October through most of November.
Jupiter shows up in the animation on August 19th, while Saturn appears on November 19th. I arbitrarily ended the animation on November 30th.
The Moon whisks by quite rapidly, since the animation is set for one frame per day at a rate of 24 frames per second. I have a third animation set for one frame per second, so you can see the moon phases more easily as well as how the Moon is positioned with the evening planets.
Venus in the Evening Sky for 2018 from February through November - part 2 (unmagnified)
Venus in the Evening Sky for 2018 from February through November - part 3 (slow)
To begin with, the animation above is an exaggeration of the size of Mars as seen from Earth during opposition. Mars will reach opposition on July 27th. But before that, as seen from Earth, Mars will begin to travel backwards, east to west, on June 28th, and resume its eastward motion on August 28th. If we were to trace out the path of Mars, as seen above, you will see the red planet form a loop in the sky.
I might add that Mars reaches its closest approach to Earth on July 31st. At that time, it will be 35 million miles from us at an apparent magnitude of -2.55. This makes Mars the third brightest object in the sky with the Moon and Sun being brighter. And, Mars opposition occurs on the same day as the full Moon.
A side note: Mars was exceptionally close to Earth back on August 27, 2003. Mars reaches this point every 15 or 16 years in relationship to the Earth. This year, Mars is off by nearly a month.
Three eclipses in less than four weeks!
The first of three eclipses beginning on July 13. The second one will be a total eclipse of the Moon on July 27th. And the final one will be another partial eclipse of the Sun on August 11th. (See the animation of the other two eclipses below.)
1st Eclipse -
Partial Solar Eclipse on July 13, 2018
A rather minor eclipse, on July 13th, in its scope and location. The greatest eclipse can be seen inland, near the coastline of Antarctica, with the Moon covering 33.7% of the Sun. The southern tip of Australia and New Zealand will see 2% or less!
Because the lunar eclipse will pass close to the center of Earth's shadow, we will get to see two partial solar eclipses instead of just one (in general). In essence, three eclipses within one month!
Total Eclipse of the Moon on July 27 - 28, 2018 as seen in the eastern hemisphere
Partial Solar Eclipse on August 11, 2018
The Sun will be partially eclipsed, off the north Siberian shores (~30 miles) out in the East Siberian Sea. The Moon will block up to 73.6% of the Sun at that location. Before the eclipse ends, the Sun will set (as you can see in the animation).
Seoul Korea will see the eclipse setting before reaching the maximum phase of the eclipse. The Sun will set before the eclipse ends in Nanyuan China, but this will occur after reaching maximum partial phase.
A few major cities will see this event including Moscow, Oslo, Reykjavik, Nuuk, and Astana. I included a town on the northern shores of Scotland called Thurso (which will see very little of the partial eclipse). (I darkened three of the names of the cities because of poor contrast in the background; thus, there is no significance implied in doing that.)
This is the last of the three eclipses in a four week period from July 13th to August 11th with July 27 being a total eclipse of the Moon, and the other two being partial solar eclipses. Enjoy!
A friend of mine in Australia, and I, took a picture of the Big Dipper on the same night (June 2017). Near summer twilight was interfering with me which is why my photo was brighter and blue, while late fall allowed my friend to take his photo soon after sunset. Because of the curvature of the Earth, springtime (or late fall for my friend in this case) is the only time the Big Dipper can be seen in Australia during the evening hours. Of course, in the mid to north latitudes, the dipper can be seen all night long, and all year long, because it is circumpolar. And, of course, the north star (Polaris) cannot be seen in Australia.
A fantastic view of our Moon from the satellite, LRO!
March 20 2018