SPACE JUNK: DECEMBER 2014

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Photo Credit & Copyright: ME of the big grey rock in the sky.

Below I have listed most of the major night sky events for this month. I have also listed all resources used to generate these monthly calendars at the bottom of the post so dig in, learn and enjoy!

WERE YOU BORN ON A FULL MOON?! This great page from Moon Giant shows you what phase the Moon was in when you were born; check it out. (this may not work on your phone): http://www.moongiant.com/birthday_moon/

DECEMBER 01 (Mon) – Entering the month the Moon is 10 days old in its 29.53 day Synodic Cycle and 73% illuminated in its waxing gibbous phase.

DECEMBER 01 (Mon) – Sunrise on the lunar scarp; Rupes Recta or the “Straight Wall” is visible tonight.  The night after first quarter (around 60% illuminated) the rising Sun causes it to look black as its shadow is cast.  Two weeks later, during lunar sunset it will appear white.

DECEMBER 01 (Mon) – Pico Mons Sunrise occurs a night after first quarter (around 60% illuminated) the rising Sun hits Pico Mons in Mare Imbrium, near Crater Plato and casts a long shadow along the lunar plains.

DECEMBER 02 (Tue) – The Moon reaches Descending Node at 08:32 UTC (03:32 EST).

DECEMBER 5 (Fri) – Werner Heisenberg Birthday (1901).

DECEMBER 5 (Fri) – Full Moon dances in the Hyades star cluster near the Eye of the Bull, Aldebaran.

DECEMBER 06 (Sat) – The Full Moon will occur at 12:27 UTC (07:27 EST). The Full Cold Moon; or the Full Long Nights Moon – December During this month the winter cold fastens its grip, and nights are at their longest and darkest. It is also sometimes called the Moon before Yule. The term Long Night Moon is a doubly appropriate name because the midwinter night is indeed long, and because the Moon is above the horizon for a long time. The midwinter full Moon has a high trajectory across the sky because it is opposite a low Sun.  This will be the highest full moon on 2014.

DECEMBER 07 (Sun) – The Moon reaches its Greatest Northern Declination of +18.37 degrees.

DECEMBER 07 (Sun) – Earliest Sunset of 2014.

DECEMBER 12 (Fri) – Apogee Moon occurs at 23:04 UTC (18:04 EST) where the Moon is at its furthest point from Earth in its current orbit and will be subtending at 29’ arc minutes from a distance of 404,583 km (251,396 mi).

DECEMBER 13 & 14 (Sat & Sun): The Peak of the Geminids meteor shower hits on the night of the 13th and morning of the 14th.  This shower peaks at about 20 per hour from the general direction of the constellation Leo.  The Moon will be near Last Quarter phase and only about 50% illuminated.  The parent body of the Geminids is Asteroid 3200 Phaethon.  In this case, because of the last quarter moon rising at midnight, the best viewing will not be at its usual, pre-dawn time but instead before the midnight moon rise.

Peak night is usually a given night and next morning with the “next morning” being the absolute best time to watch. In fact the closer to morning twilight you can get, the better…..here’s why. If you view the solar system from the top, planets orbit the Sun in a counter clockwise motion, we also rotate in a counter clockwise motion. That means just before sunrise the Earth is pointed in the direction of travel of the Earth itself and meteors are mere “bugs (Or if you prefer; “snowflakes”) hitting the windshield” of Spaceship Earth. For more info on this shower hit the link: https://danspace77.com/2014-meteor-showers/.

DECEMBER 14 (Sun) – Last Quarter (3rd Quarter) Moon occurs this month at 12:53 UTC (07:53 EST).

DECEMBER 14 (Sun) – The brilliant Walther Sunset Ray will occur at 03:19 UTC (22:19 EST on the 13th). Located in the ancient 145 kilometer (90 mile) Necterian age crater named Walther (Formerly Walter or Valtherus) is a special treat that occurs monthly for a matter of a few hours when illumination is around 44%. On the western rim of the crater there’s a notch and when the Sun is setting low on the lunar horizon (When the crater is near the terminator) light penetrates the notch, creating a vast triangle or “V” shaped light ray across the craters floor that ends as it illuminates the central peak of the crater. Walther Crater a heavily eroded crater located in the Lunar Southern Highlands at the Selenographic Coordinates (Definition below) of Latitude: 33.1°S / Longitude: 1.0°E. It’s named after German astronomer Bernhard Walther. This crater also has a sunrise ray that instead of a light ray is a long shadow cast by the central peak.

DECEMBER 14 (Sun) – Sunset on the lunar scarp; Rupes Recta or the “Straight Wall” is visible about the day of or day after last quarter (about 45% illuminated) the setting Sun causes it to look white as it illuminates the slope.  Two weeks later, during lunar sunrise after first quarter it will appear black.

DECEMBER 14 (Sun) – Pico Mons Sunset occurs this morning around 03:00 EST (08:00 UTC).  The day of or day after last quarter (around 50% illuminated) the setting Sun hits Pico Mons in Mare Imbrium, near Crater Plato and casts a long shadow along the lunar plains.

DECEMBER 14 (Sun) – Tycho Brahe Birthday (1546).

DECEMBER 15 (Mon) – The CURTISS CROSS, a shadowing effect along craters Gambart and Parry which create an “X” shaped formation and will occur at 10:55 UTC (05:55 EST).  The Curtiss Cross is associated with the third (last) quarter Moon and forms about 14 hours past the third quarter mark.

DECEMBER 16 (Tue) – 27 (Sat) As of the 16th we are on the verge of December’s new moon (Lunation 1138), this week presents nights that are the absolute BEST nights to get out and observe Deep Sky Objects (DSOs) because you won’t have to look through the spotlight that is the Moon. Night skies without the Moon are significantly more productive for viewing and photography ANY night sky object (besides the Moon itself of course). For the lucky ones, this week offers the amazing spectacle of the extreme crescent moon, both waning in the east & waxing in the west.

DECEMBER 16 (Tue) – The Moon reaches Ascending Node at 13:27 UTC (08:27 EST).

DECEMBER 19 (Fri) – Saturn will be just below the Moon tonight.

DECEMBER 21 (Sun) – Winter Solstice and shortest daylight hours of the year.

DECEMBER 21 (Sun) – The Moon is at its Greatest Southern Declination of -18.39 degrees.

DECEMBER 22 (Mon) – New Moon (LUNATION 1138) occurs at 01:36 UTC (20:36 EST on the 21st).

DECEMBER 24 (Wed) – Perigee Moon occurs at 16:44 UTC (11:34 EST) and is when the Moon is at its closest point to Earth in its orbit. It will be subtending at 33’arc minutes from a distance of 364,790 km (226,670 mi).

DECEMBER 25 (Thu) – Isaac Newton Birthday (1642).

DECEMBER 27 (Sat) – Johannes Kepler Birthday (1571).

DECEMBER 28 (Sun) – Arthur Eddington Birthday (1882).

DECEMBER 28 (Sun) – First Quarter Moon is the Moon watchers paradise. Occurring at 18:32 UTC (13:32 EST), First Quarter Moons and the waxing crescent phase leading up to it offer some of the most visually stunning views the Moon has to offer. Most of us will take the beautiful curves, valleys and shadows of a 1st Quarter Moon over a Full Moon ANY day.

DECEMBER 29 (Mon) – LUNAR-X also known as the PURBACH or WERNER CROSS is scheduled to begin forming the “X” around 00:05 UTC (19:05 EST). The Lunar-X is the big, more prominent brother to the Curtiss Cross. This “X” is created by shadows along rims and ridges of craters LaCaille, Blanchinus and Purbach. The “X” formations occur along the terminator (where “day” meets “night” across the Moon).

DECEMBER 29 (Mon) – The Moon reaches Descending Node at 09:27 UTC (04:27 EST).

DECEMBER 29 (Mon) – Sunrise on the lunar scarp; Rupes Recta or the “Straight Wall” is visible the night of or the night after first quarter (around 60% illuminated) the rising Sun causes it to look black as its shadow is cast.  Two weeks later, during lunar sunset it will appear white.

DECEMBER 29 (Mon) – Pico Mons Sunrise occurs the night of or the night after first quarter (around 60% illuminated) the rising Sun hits Pico Mons in Mare Imbrium, near Crater Plato and casts a long shadow along the lunar plains.

DECEMBER 29 (Mon) – MAGINUS SUNRISE RAY will occur at 22:18 UTC (17:18 EST). At the right times and as the Sun rises over the Crater Maginus (Near the terminator) a beautiful sun ray shines through a break in the craters eastern wall. The result is a vast triangle or “V” formation of light cast upon the crater floor for a period of a few hours. Maginus Crater (Named after Italian astronomer Giovanni Antonio Magini) is a pre-Nectarian impact crater located in the southern lunar highlands and to the south east of Tycho Crater. It’s 110 miles (177km.) and has been extremely eroded by subsequent impacts on or near the site through the millennia. Its selenographic coordinates (Definition below) are Latitude: 50.5°S / Longitude: 6.3°W.

DECEMBER 31 (Wed) – Leaving the month the Moon is 10 days old in its 29.53 day Synodic Cycle and 79% illuminated in its waxing gibbous phase.

***Definition of LIBRATION (basically) – Is an oscillation of an orbiting body relative to another. OK, so…We know the Earth/Moon system is tidally locked so we always see the same side of the moon. Due to libration, we ACTUALLY see about 60% of the Moon instead of what you may intuitively think of as a 50% measurement. That’s because the Moon oscillates slightly as it rotates and orbits Earth. So, on occasion and with a keen eye we can see a little further “around the corner” north, south, east and west on the moon by a couple degrees.

***SUBTENDING Explained – Definition: The angle formed by an object at a given external point. The moon subtends an angle of approximately 0.54° (32 arc minutes) to an observer on the Earth. Of course, the moon’s orbit is not constant or exactly circular, so this varies a little, but not by very much. If you hold up your thumb at arm’s length, you can easily cover the full moon. This means your thumb subtends a larger angle to your eye at arm’s length than the moon does at 380,000 kilometers. In general, the closer you are to a particular object the larger that subtending angle.

***SELENOGRAPHIC COORDINATES Defined – Selenographic coordinates are used to refer to locations on the surface of Earth’s Moon. Any position on the lunar surface can be referenced by specifying two numerical values, which are comparable to the latitude and longitude of Earth. The longitude gives the position east or west of the Moon’s prime meridian, which is the line of longitude passing through the point on the lunar surface directly facing Earth. (See also Earth’s prime meridian.) This can be thought of as the midpoint of the visible Moon as seen from the Earth. The latitude gives the position north or south of the lunar equator. Both of these coordinates are given in terms of degrees. Astronomers defined the fundamental location in the selenographic coordinate system by the small, bowl-shaped satellite crater ‘Mösting A’. The coordinates of this crater are defined as: Latitude: 3° 12′ 43.2″ South / Longitude: 5° 12′ 39.6″ West. The coordinate system has become precisely defined due to the Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment. Anything past 90°E or 90°W would not be seen from Earth, except for libration, which makes 59% of the Moon visible.

NASA | Moon Phase and Libration North Up 2014: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKRtZ89AMts

2014 Moon phases with TIMES: http://www.calendar-12.com/moon_phases/2014

FULL YEAR of Lunar Cycles: Previous and Future years as well: http://kalender-365.de/lunar-calendar.php?yy=2014

2014 Moon phase & illumination calendar: http://www.calendar-12.com/moon_calendar/2014/december

Full & New Moon Calendar: http://www.moongiant.com/Full_Moon_New_Moon_Calendar.php

BLUE MOON Calendar: http://www.moongiant.com/Blue_Moon_Calendar.php

SUPERMOON Calendar: http://www.astropro.com/features/tables/cen21ce/suprmoon.html

2014 Perigee & Apogee DATES, TIMES & DISTANCES as well as Full & New Moon dates & times: http://www.fourmilab.ch/earthview/pacalc.html

2014 Perigee & Apogee: http://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/moon/distance.html

Lunar Ray predictions: http://www.lunar-occultations.com/rlo/rays/rays.htm

Sun/Moon Rise & Set times: http://www.40-below.com/sunmoon/

Sun/Moon Rise & Set times for the DAY: http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/RS_OneDay.php

Sun/Moon Rise & Set times for the YEAR: http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/RS_OneYear.php

Farmer’s Almanac Full Moon Names: http://www.farmersalmanac.com/full-moon-names/

Lunar ASCENDING & DESCENDING Nodes: http://astropixels.com/ephemeris/moon/moonnodes2001.html

Greatest NORTHERN & SOUTHERN Declinations of the Moon: http://www.astropro.com/features/tables/cen21ce/mo-dcl-2014.html

Moon Phases for ANY date: http://www.moonpage.com/

NASA GODDARD Moon NOW: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a000000/a004100/a004118/

Moon right NOW: http://www.calculatorcat.com/moon_phases/phasenow.php

Moon right NOW: http://www.die.net/moon/

Moon right NOW: http://www.calendar-365.com/moon/current-moon-phase.html

NASA JPL Ephemeris Calculator: http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/?horizons

Lunar Ephemeris Calculator: http://www.lunar-occultations.com/rlo/ephemeris.htm

Equinoxes/Solstices: http://wwp.greenwich-mean-time.eu/longest-day/

Sunrise & Sunset CHART: http://sunrisehour.com/sunrise-sunset/united_states/boston_ma

Kilometers (km) to miles (mi.) converter: http://www.metric-conversions.org/length/kilometers-to-miles.htm

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2 Responses to SPACE JUNK: DECEMBER 2014

  1. Steven Dunn says:

    Finally got to see the WSR from my home in the UK. A fantastic sight and the Geminids to view as well.

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