Space Junk; AUGUST 2015


Photo Credit & Copyright: My attempt at imaging the 2,159 mile wide low albedo rock 240,000 miles away that’s lit by the nearly million mile wide fusion reactor 93 million miles away in the other direction.

Below I have listed most of the major night sky events for this month, birthdays, events in history etc. I have also listed all resources used to generate these monthly calendars at the bottom of the post so dig in, learn and enjoy! Also; if you notice something that I didn’t add that you think should be here, or if something’s incorrect definitely let me know!

Here’s a list of all major 2015 Celestial Events here:

Interested in Planetary Motions for 2015? Here ya go!:

How about Meteor Showers for 2015?

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):

All dates and times were calculated using Military Time & Universal Time (UTC) and I also throw in eastern U.S. time (EST or EDT depending on whether its Daylight Savings or not) but beware, early morning events for UTC will actually likely be late night events on the previous date for the US. For example if something is scheduled to occur at 02:00 UTC on the 14th, that’s 21:00 EST on the 13th.

Another important thing to remember is that a calendar day is actually daylight sandwiched between two darks so when an event says, March 29 for example, you’ve got to check the time because March 29 could very well be in the morning before sunrise and not that coming night.

Finally, calculating events on the Moon is that it’s not as simple as “Ok it’s 40% illuminated so we should see this.” I wish it was that easy but because of libration, locations on the disk of the moon move slightly as we see them. One month an event could occur at 52% illumination and the next month it could occur at 54% illumination etc.

AUGUST 01 (Sat) – Entering the month the Moon is 16 days old in its 29.53 day Synodic Cycle and 99% illuminated in its waxing gibbous phase.

AUGUST 01 (Sat) – Lughnasadh cross-quarter day.

AUGUST 02 (Sun) My single favorite phase of the Moon occurs around 95 % illumination just after full phase. I call it the “Full Crater Chain” and it’s when the terminator runs right through Mare Crisium. The chain runs up through Cleomedes, Burckhardt, Geminus, Messala, Endymion and even more impressively below Crisium through Langrenus, Vendelinus, Petavius and Furnerius. If you catch it just right you can enjoy a secondary treat as Petavius’s central peak becomes illuminated and shines alone in the darkness of the crater itself. (NOTE: With libration it may not form properly month to month.).

AUGUST 02 (Sun) – Perigee Moon occurs at 10:00 UTC (06:00 EDT) 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 362,142 km (225,025 mi).

AUGUST 04 (Tue) – The Moon reaches Descending Node at 02:53 UTC (22:53 EDT on the 3rd).

August 5, 1930: Birth of Neil Armstrong.

August 6, 2014: ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft enters into orbit around Comet 67P.

August 6, 1945: Atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.

August 6, 2012: Mars Science Lab (MSL) Curiosity survives its 7 Minutes of Terror and lands on the surface of Mars.

AUGUST 06-07 (Thu-Fri) – Jupiter and Mercury are just over one-half degree apart low on the western horizon after sunset.

AUGUST 07 (Fri) – Last Quarter (3rd Quarter) Moon occurs this month at 02:05 UTC (16:26 EDT on the 6th). Though the quarters of the Moon occur at exact times, as far as viewing goes you can call it the entire night and be close enough.

AUGUST 07 (Fri) – Sunset on the lunar scarp; Rupes Recta or the “Straight Wall” is visible about the day of or day after last quarter (about 45-50% 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.

AUGUST 07 (Fri) – The brilliant Walther Sunset Ray will occur around 11:51 UTC (07:51 EDT). 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.

AUGUST 07 (Fri) – Pico Mons Sunset.  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.

AUGUST 07 (Fri) – 21 (Fri) As of Friday the 7th we are on the verge of August’s new moon (Lunation 1146). 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.

AUGUST 08 (Sat) – The CURTISS CROSS, is a creation of shadows throughout craters Gambart and Parry which create an “X” shaped formation and will occur around 16:25 UTC (12:25 EST).  The Curtiss Cross is associated with the third (last) quarter Moon and forms about 14 hours past the third quarter mark.

August 8, 1902: Birth of theoretical physicist Paul Dirac.

August 8, 1940: Happy Birthday Dennis Tito; 1st space tourist.

August 8, 1948: Happy birthday Svetlana Savitskaya; 1st female space walker.

August 9, 1945: Atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan.

AUGUST 10 (Mon) – The Moon reaches its Greatest Northern Declination of +18.17 degrees.

AUGUST 12 & 13 (Wed night & Thu morn): Perseids Meteor Shower:  Peak viewing will be on the night of Wednesday the 12th and Thursday the 13th before sunrise.  Peak rate this year will be a modest 75-ish per hour and the 5% waning crescent moon will provide near perfect dark sky conditions.  With the name Perseids, you will obviously want to look in the general direction of the constellation Perseus and the parent body of this event is shower by Comet 109P/Swift Tuttle.

As always, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.  Peak might be 12 & 13 but active dates should range from mid-July to late-August. Obviously the further from peak you get the less you will see but you never know if the weather will wash out peak viewing nights.   So if it’s clear and near have a look!

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…’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:

August 12, 1887: Birth of Erwin Schrodinger.

August 12, 1977: First free flight of Test Space Shuttle Enterprise.

AUGUST 13 (Thu) – Comet 67P reaches perihelion; its closest point to the Sun.

August 14, 1959: Explorer 6 captures 1st image of Earth from orbit.

AUGUST 14 (Thu) – New Moon (LUNATION 1146) occurs at 14:54 UTC (10:54 EDT). Though the quarters of the Moon occur at exact times, as far as viewing goes you can call it the entire night and be close enough.

August 15, 1977: Jerry Ehman while working at Ohio’s Big Ear Telescope receives the famous 72 second “WOW” signal.

August 16, 1960: Joe Kittinger Excelsior 3 jump (Final and highest Excelsior jump 102,800 ft. or 31,333 m).

AUGUST 17 (Mon) – The Moon reaches Ascending Node at 23:05 UTC (19:05 EDT).

August 17, 1933: Happy Birthday Gene Kranz.

AUGUST 18 (Tue) – Apogee Moon occurs at 02:45 UTC (22:45 EDT on the 17th) 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 405,849 km (252,183 mi).

August 19, 1935: Happy Birthday Story Musgrave.

August 19, 1946: Happy Birthday Charlie Bolden.

August 19, 1946: Happy Birthday Bill Clinton.

August 19, 1962: Happy Birthday NASA astronaut Mike Massimino.

August 19, 1921: Birth of sci-fi legend, Gene Roddenberry.

August 19, 1871: Birth of Orville Wright.

August 20, 1977: Launch of Voyager 2.

August 21, 1965: Launch of Gemini 5.

AUGUST 22 (Sat) – First Quarter Moon is the Moon watchers paradise. Occurring at 19:32 UTC (15:32 EDT), 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. Though the quarters of the Moon occur at exact times, as far as viewing goes you can call it the entire night and be close enough.

AUGUST 22 (Sat) – MAGINUS SUNRISE RAY will occur around 20:09 UTC (16:09 EDT). 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.

August 22, 1920: Birth of sci-fi author Ray Bradbury.

AUGUST 22 (Sat) – LUNAR-X also known as the PURBACH or WERNER CROSS is scheduled to begin forming the “X” around 01:25 UTC (21:25 EDT on the 21st). The Lunar-X is the big, more prominent brother to the Curtiss Cross. This “X” is created by shadowing throughout the rims and ridges of craters LaCaille, Blanchinus and Purbach. The “X” formations occur along the terminator (where “day” meets “night” across the Moon).  It typically begins just after first quarter when the Moon is approximately 53% illuminated.

August 23, 1966: Lunar Orbiter-1 takes 1st image of Earth from lunar orbit.

AUGUST 23 (Sun) – Pico Mons Sunrise occurs the night of or the night after first quarter (around 62% illuminated) the rising Sun hits Pico Mons in Mare Imbrium, near Crater Plato and casts a long shadow along the lunar plains.

AUGUST 23 (Sun) – 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.

AUGUST 25 (Tue) – The Moon is at its Greatest Southern Declination of -18.12 degrees.

August 25, 2012: Death of Neil Armstrong. “International Wink at the Moon Night.”

August 26, 1967: Rollout of (SA-501) Apollo 4: The rollout of the 1st active Saturn V and the 1st active rollout to Launch Complex 39A and the entire LC-39 complex.

AUGUST 29 (Sat) – The Full Moon will occur at 18:37 UTC (14:37 EDT). Though the quarters of the Moon occur at exact times, as far as viewing goes you can call it the entire night and be close enough. (Name information provided by The Farmer’s Almanac).  Full Sturgeon Moon – The fishing tribes are given credit for the naming of this Moon, since sturgeon, a large fish of the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water, were most readily caught during this month. A few tribes knew it as the Full Red Moon because, as the Moon rises, it appears reddish through any sultry haze. It was also called the Green Corn Moon or Grain Moon.

Full Moon Note: Many people actually find observing the Full Moon through a telescope or binoculars almost painful due to its brightness. One way that we curb this issue (at least in telescopes) is with neutral density filters. ND filters range anywhere from 20% light block to 80% light block and they’re pretty cheap. I don’t usually use them but I have a 50% on hand in the event someone needs it. Just be careful because for some companies, an ND25 means 25% of the light is blocked while some mean 25% of light passes through so make sure before you buy.

August 29, 1959: Happy Birthday to Canadian astronaut and Chris Hadfield.

AUGUST 30 (Sun) – Perigee Moon occurs at 15:30 UTC (11:30 EDT) 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 358,293 km (222,633 mi).

AUGUST 31 (Mon) – The Moon reaches Descending Node at 10:16 UTC (06:16 EDT on the 3rd).

AUGUST 31 (Mon) – Leaving the month the Moon is 17 days old in its 29.53 day Synodic Cycle and 96% 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 & Libration Northern Hemisphere 2015:

NASA | Moon Phase & Libration Southern Hemisphere 2015:

2015 Moon phases with TIMES:

2015 Moon phase & illumination calendar:

2015 Perigee & Apogee DATES, TIMES & DISTANCES as well as Full & New Moon dates & times (John Walker’s Fourmilab):

2015 Perigee & Apogee:

Lunar Ray predictions:

Farmer’s Almanac Full Moon Names:


Greatest NORTHERN & SOUTHERN Declinations of the Moon (Richard Nolle’s Astro Pro):

FULL YEAR of Lunar Cycles: Previous and Future years as well:

Full & New Moon Calendar:

Sun/Moon Rise & Set times:

Sun/Moon Rise & Set times for the DAY:

Sun/Moon Rise & Set times for the YEAR:

BLUE MOON Calendar:

SUPERMOON Calendar (Richard Nolle’s Astro Pro):

Moon Phases for ANY date:


Moon right NOW:

Moon right NOW:

Moon right NOW:

NASA JPL Ephemeris Calculator:

Lunar Ephemeris Calculator:


Sunrise & Sunset CHART:

Kilometers (km) to miles (mi.) converter:

2015 Astronomical Events:

Occult Software:

Greatest Elongations of Mercury & Venus:

Steve Preston’s Asteroid Occultations:

US Naval Observatory Celestial Phenomena for 2015:

Seiichi Yoshida’s Weekly bright Comets:

International Meteor Organizations 2015 Information:

Satellite Tracking:

NASA Eclipses:

S&T Jupiter 2015 Observation Almanac:

S&T Galilean Moon Mutual Events:

S&T Jupiter Moon Events 2015:

Northern Virginia Astronomy Club: Jupiter Moon Events for 2015:


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