Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Capturing the 'Super Moon'


Well, almost the Super Moon.  First, the defined super Moon occurs when the full Moon (or new Moon) coincides with closest point (perigee) in its elliptical orbit resulting in an observed disk which has the largest apparent diameter. Thus, the full Moon that appeared Saturday and Sunday could be defined as such a "super Moon" - with the phase then changing (slightly) to gibbous by Monday. Well, it was on Monday - last night - that we captured the photo above. Saturday and Sunday night were washouts on account of cloudy weather, rain.

Some of the Moon's phases in a basic diagram are shown below


Thus, the super Moon technically occurred in the diagram at the 'Full' position, and is now on its way to 3rd quarter. So, we observed the Moon just slightly past Full, but the apparent angular diameter was still nearly 14 percent larger than it normally is.

Finding a good spot to observe was difficult at first because as the Moon rose many trees - including from neighbors' yards- obscured it. But even a peek through a couple of the trees showed a splendid sight with its apparent size further enhanced by the effects of atmospheric refraction near the horizon.

As it rose to about 5 degrees altitude, we were able to observe it from the south side of our front yard. I had my 'Admiral' 12x telescope and Janice set up her digital camera.  She was able to photograph it at about this altitude though some low cloud and haze still obscured the surface details - which is why it appears as a blankish disc.

Meanwhile, I stayed until the altitude reached 10 degrees and could easily observe the lunar 'rays', the crater Tycho, as well as lunar seas such are Mare Imbrium.

We now look forward to the next super Moon on Sept, 28 and are hoping for better observational conditions!

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