May 26, 2011

The “morning planets” separate joined by the Moon and a Solar Eclipse

Friday, May 27th The Moon will be at apogee, furthest from Earth. Look for it above the east horizon about 2 hours before sunrise.


Memorial Day weekend. The Moon joins the morning “super group” of planets where it’s nearest Jupiter on Sunday morning, Mars on Monday morning and the Pleiades, Venus and tiny Mercury near the horizon 30 minutes before sunrise. Jupiter has now moved west of the group but Mars, Venus and Mercury remain within a circle of 5 degrees diameter. I have yet to see this grouping owing to weather, work schedule and sleep deprivation. Maybe this weekend!

solar_eclipse.jpg Wednesday, June 1. The Moon will be at conjunction with the Sun, and therefore “new” at 21:03 UT (5:03 pm EDT). As is usually the case with new and full Moons during June there will be an associated eclipse. On Wednesday the start of lunation 1094 will bring a partial eclipse of the Sun. This one will be a sort of “rim shot” which will just graze Earth’s northern edge.

The show will start early the morning of June 2nd in Japan and sweep across extreme northwestern Russia, Alaska, northern and eastern Canada and conclude as the Sun sets late in their evening on June 1st. Imagine the scene in extreme northwestern Russia at midnight local time June 2nd. This far north into the arctic circle the Sun will partially dip to the northern horizon and appear as “a huge boat sailing out over the Barents Sea” with the upper two thirds of it bitten away by the Moon’s shadow.

Remember, at this time of year the Sun never sets above the arctic circle. Joe Rao imagined this scene in the “eclipses” section of Guy Ottewell’s 2011 Astronomical Calendar

Related links about eclipses:

Goddard Spaceflight Center Eclipse page

Fred Espenak’s “Mr Eclipse”

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