Cumberland Times-News

June 30, 2012

Here are sky sights for the rest of the year

Bob Doyle, Columnist
Cumberland Times-News

— JULY — The moon is full on the evening of July 3, rising as the sun sets. This is the lowest full moon of the year, never getting higher than one third of the way up in the South in the middle of the night (about 1 a.m.).

The crescent moon appears near the two morning planets , bright Jupiter and brilliant Venus in the 5 a.m. eastern sky on July 15.

The moon returns to the western dusk on July 21, appearing near Mars on July 24 and close to Saturn on July 25. On the evening of July 25, the moon appears half full, offering the month’s best views of its craters and mountain ranges.            

AUGUST — The moon is full on the evening of Aug. 1 and again on the evening of Aug. 31. The second full moon in a month is called a “blue moon,” occurring about once every three years.

The Perseid meteor shower in the predawn hours of Aug. 12 has no moonlight interfering (as moon sets about 1:40 a.m.) . These meteors can be traced back to the star group Perseus.

A meteor shower occurs when the Earth crosses a comet’s orbit and gets bombed with comet grit, that burns up high in our atmosphere.

Dawn on Aug. 13 and 14 will see the moon near the bright planet Jupiter and the brilliant planet Venus.

The moon returns to the western dusk on Aug. 20, appearing near the planets Mars and Saturn on Aug. 22 and 23. On Aug. 24, the evening moon appears half full. August ends with a full moon.

SEPTEMBER — There will be a lot of early evening moonlight the first few days of September. This is a preview of the Harvest Moon that occurs on Sept. 29. The moon will appear near the planet Jupiter in the late evening sky of Sept. 7.

After moving into the morning sky, the crescent moon will appear near the brilliant planet Venus at dawn on Sept. 12. At dusk, the crescent moon appears near Saturn on Sept. 18 and near Mars on the next evening.

On Sept. 22, fall begins and the evening moon appears half full. The Harvest Moon occurs on the evening of Sept. 29, providing extra evening moonlight for the next four evenings.

OCTOBER — The moon will appear near the bright planet Jupiter on the evening of Oct. 5. At dawn the moon appears half full in the southern dawn sky on Oct. 7.

At dawn on Oct. 12, the crescent moon appears near the brilliant planet Venus. On Oct. 18 the crescent moon is near the planet Mars in the southwestern dusk. On Sunday, Oct. 21, the evening moon appears half full.

The moon is full on Oct. 29; this is the Hunter’s Moon, providing extra evening moonlight through month’s end.

NOVEMBER — On Nov. 1, the moon appears near the bright planet Jupiter in the eastern evening sky.

Clocks are set back an hour before retiring on Saturday, Nov. 3; on Nov. 4 the sunset occurs an hour earlier (about 5:15 p.m.) and the stars become visible a little after 6 p.m.

On the morning of Nov. 7, the moon appears half full in the southern dawn. On Nov. 11, the crescent moon appears to the right of the brilliant planet Venus in the 6:30 a.m. dawn.

The crescent moon returns to the western dusk after Nov. 14. The evening moon is half full on Nov. 20 and full on Nov. 28.

DECEMBER — On the evening of Dec. 2, the planet Jupiter is closest, rising at sunset and hanging in the sky all night long. In early Dec., the planet Mercury is underneath brilliant Venus in the southeastern dawn sky.

At dawn, the crescent moon is near Saturn on Dec. 10 and near Venus on the next morning. This is a good year for the Geminid meteor shower (can be traced back to Gemini) in the early morning hours of Dec. 13.

After Dec. 13, the moon reappears in the western dusk as a slender crescent. The evening moon is half full on Dec. 19. The evening moon will appear near the bright planet Jupiter on Dec. 25.

The moon is full on Dec. 27; this full moon has the highest sky path, cresting 80 per cent of the way up in the south around midnight. (Actual time of full moon is 5:22 a.m. on Dec. 28.)

Bob Doyle invites any readers comments and questions. E-mail him at rdoyle@frostburg.edu . He is available as a speaker on his column topics.