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Moon, Saturn from mid-evening until dawn on April 16-17

2014-april-16-saturn-moon-night-sky-chart

On the night of April 16, people around the world will have to wait until mid-to-late evening to see the waning gibbous moon pairing up with the ringed planet Saturn. Once the moon and Saturn climb above the eastern horizon tonight, the twosome will adorn the nighttime until dawn. Look for the moon and Saturn in the east before going to bed tonight, and if you’re an early riser, look for them in the western sky before sunrise.

Rising time of the moon and Saturn in your sky

The moon and Saturn will pair up especially closely as seen from the Americas. In fact, the glare of the waning gibbous moon may obscure Saturn from view, so you might need binoculars to spot Saturn tonight. From South America, the moon will actually occult – cover over – Saturn, temporarily blocking the ringed planet from view.

Large Hadron Collider discovers new form of matter

The Large Hadron Collider

The Large Hadron Collider

Physicists say they’ve confirmed the existence of exotic hadrons — a type of matter that cannot be classified within the traditional quark model. that exotic hadrons -particles made up of two quarks and two anti-quarks – actually exist

A tetrad of lunar eclipses, next one October 8

Last night’s eclipse marks the beginning of a special eclipse series known as a tetrad – four total lunar eclipses in a row, with no partial eclipses in between. The next one is October 8.

Is Saturn making a new moon?

Image credit: NASA

The disturbance visible at the outer edge of Saturn’s A ring in this image from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft results from gravitational effects on ring particles by an object that may be replaying the birth process of icy moons. Cassini’s narrow-angle camera recorded this view on April 15, 2013. Image credit: NASA

A small icy object within the rings of Saturn might be a brand new moon in the process of being born.

See it! Photos of total lunar eclipse of April 14-15

“Lunar eclipse from Des Moines, Iowa. Composite photo showing the moon disappearing and turning dark-red. Taken at the outdoor Papajohn Sculpture Park in downtown Des Moines, Iowa.,” by Brian Abeling

Did you sleep through last night’s eclipse? Or maybe you had cloudy skies. If so, here’s the next best thing. Enjoy these.

Why don’t planets twinkle like stars do?

If you could see stars and planets from outer space, both would shine steadily. But – from Earth – stars twinkle while planets shine steadily. Why?

Turquoise dreams

Photo credit: T Richardsen

Photo credit: T Richardsen

Waterscape by T. Rchardsen

Sundial noon and clock noon agree in middle April

Every year around the middle of April, time by the sun and time by the clock agree. For instance, when the midday sun climbs highest in the sky in mid-April, the sundial reads 12 o’clock noon and your local clock time says 12 o’clock noon.

Your local clock time is the same as standard clock time, as long as you live on the meridian that governs your time zone. If you live east of the time zone line, then your local time runs ahead of standard time. If you live west of the time zone line, local time lags behind standard time.

Why is Mars near the moon on eclipse night?

On the night of April 14-15, the planet Mars - closest in 6 years - will be near the eclipsed moon.  The star Spica will also be nearby.  Illustration via Classical Astronomy.

On the night of April 14-15, the planet Mars – closest in 6 years – will be near the eclipsed moon. The star Spica will also be nearby. Illustration via Jay Ryan Classical Astronomy.

On April 8, Earth in its smaller orbit passed generally between Mars and the sun. Our motion in orbit has placed Mars opposite the sun from our point of view, visible all night while the sun is below our feet. It’s what astronomers call an opposition of Mars. Meanwhile, a full moon is also, always, opposite the sun. It must be so, in order to appear full from Earth. An outer planet is always near the full moon during the month it reaches opposition. A total eclipse always happens at full moon. Voila! Mars is near the moon on eclipse night. More illustration inside to help you visualize it.

What is a Blood Moon?

This is what a total eclipse looks like.  This is the total eclipse of October 27, 2004 via Fred Espenak of NASA, otherwise known as Mr. Eclipse.  Visit Fred's page here.

This is what a total eclipse looks like. This is the total eclipse of October 27, 2004 via Fred Espenak of NASA. Visit Fred’s page here. We astronomy writers often describe a totally eclipsed moon as appearing ‘blood red.’ Here’s why the moon turns red during a total eclipse.

The first Blood Moon eclipse in a series of four is coming up on the night of April 14-15, 2014. This total eclipse of the moon will be visible from the Americas. We in astronomy had not heard the term Blood Moon used in quite this way before this year, but now the term is becoming widespread in the media.