Astronomy

How much (more or less) of the moon will be visible as it recedes from the Earth?

How much (more or less) of the moon will be visible as it recedes from the Earth?


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The Moon is receding from the Earth, at a rate of about 4 cm per year. We can currently see about 59% of the Moon's surface, from the Earth's surface.

Will the amount of the Moon's surface we can see from Earth change (significantly) as the Moon recedes?


Look Up At The Night Sky (November 2020)

Here’s our list of celestial events you’ll be able to see during the month of November. It will be an exciting month for viewing stunning planets, multiple meteor showers, and a full Moon. Be sure to bookmark this page and refer to it all month long!

Take note that we sometimes will use angular degrees to define the separation between two objects, such as (for example) a bright planet and the Moon. Keep in mind that the width of your clenched fist, held at arm’s length, measures roughly 10°.

When we speak of magnitude, we are referring to the brightness of an object, the lower the figure of magnitude, the brighter the object. The brightest stars are zero and first magnitude. Under a dark, clear sky, the faintest objects that you can see with just your eyes are fifth or sixth magnitude. Objects with negative magnitudes are the brightest. Sirius, the brightest star, is -1.4. Venus can get as bright as -4.8. A full Moon is -12.7 and the Sun is a blindingly bright -26.7!

All times are listed in Eastern Time for the Northern Hemisphere.

November 5-12—The South and North Taurid Meteor Showers will be most active during this one-week time period. If there were no moonlight, an observer after midnight would count up to 10 per hour. The Taurids tend to have a higher percentage of fireballs than other showers do, and emanate from two spots in the sky. One is located near the Pleiades star cluster and the other near the star Lambda (λ) Tauri. This year, the Moon will be a waning gibbous on the 5th, so its light will seriously reduce the number of shooting stars seen, but by the 12th, it will have slimmed to a crescent phase and will be much less of a hindrance. Observers can also take advantage of the unusually long duration of the shower and avoid the Moon entirely. The Earth takes at least two months to traverse the Taurid stream, believed to have become diffuse through great age.

November 8—Last Quarter Moon at 8:46 a.m. In this phase, the Moon appears as a half Moon due to the direct sunlight the illuminated part is decreasing toward the new Moon phase.

November 10Mercury enjoys its very best morning apparition of 2020 this month. On the 3rd, it will appear as a star of magnitude +0.6 rising in tandem with the bluish 1st-magnitude star, Spica, low in the east-southeast about 40 minutes before sunrise. Each morning thereafter it rises a couple of minutes earlier, climbs noticeably higher and also gets noticeably brighter. This morning it reaches its greatest elongation west of the Sun its angular distance measuring 19°. For several mornings both before and after this date, Mercury will appear to rise prior to the onset of twilight, in a dark sky, about 1 hour 45 minutes before sunup. At a brilliant magnitude of -0.6 it will be easily recognized about a dozen degrees to the lower left of dazzling Venus. After greatest elongation, Mercury will slide rapidly back toward the Sun. By the 24th it’s again rising about 75 minutes before sunrise, but still should be bright enough (-0.8) to be seen against the bright twilight glow. Thereafter it will disappear into the glare of the rising Sun. Superior conjunction occurs on December 19th.

November 12—Venus continues its slow slide down from its late summer peak of prominence this month. On the 1st, it rises nearly 3 hours before sunrise, but by month’s end this has been reduced to about 2 hours 15 minutes. It also does not seem to glow with quite the dazzling radiance that it once had as it recedes from the Earth. By midmonth it shines at magnitude -3.9, still far outshining any other star or planet, yet now appearing only about half as bright as it was back in mid-July. This morning you’ll find it glowing 6½° below a lovely waning crescent moon. On the 15th, it will pass 4° to the upper left of Spica.

November 13—At around 5 a.m. local time, an even slimmer crescent Moon—less than two days from new phase—will be positioned about 5½° above and slightly to the right of Mercury.

November 15 —New Moon at 12:07 a.m. In this phase, the Moon is not illuminated by direct sunlight and is completely invisible to the naked eye.

November 17—For a few days around this date the sharply defined Leonid meteor shower flares up, but the shower’s peak is due before dawn early Tuesday morning. These ultrafast meteors appear to dart from within the curve of the sickle of Leo, and its meteors are among the swiftest seen. This is the famous shower that produces spectacular outbursts about every 33 years as in 1833 when “stars fell on Alabama,” and again in 1966 when up to 144,000 meteors per hour left observers awestruck. The most recent Leonid storms occurred in 2001 and 2002 producing several thousand per hour. The recent lean years have generated only about a dozen or so Leonids per hour, but rates may pick up later this decade as the parent comet of these meteors (Tempel-Tuttle) draws near.

November 19—A fat waxing crescent Moon pays a visit to Jupiter and Saturn this evening. Together they form a scalene triangle (a triangle in which all three sides have different lengths) which will remain in view, low in the southwest until roughly 8:30 p.m. The Moon-Saturn side measures 5° long, the Moon-Jupiter side 8°, while Jupiter and Saturn are now just 3½° apart and getting a bit closer with each passing night as they enter the home stretch on route to their “Great Conjunction” next month.

November 21—First Quarter Moon at 11:45 p.m. In this phase, the Moon looks like a half-Moon in the sky. One-half of the Moon is illuminated by direct sunlight while the illuminated part is increasing, on its way to becoming a full Moon.

November 25—Mars, now coming off of its highly favorable opposition last month, is rapidly receding from Earth and consequently growing dimmer and shrinking in telescopes. At the start of November, the red planet is 43.8 million miles away, but by month’s end it is 16 million miles farther away, and in telescopes its disk will appear 27% smaller.

November 25—On this evening before Thanksgiving, the waxing gibbous Moon will be accompanied through the night by pumpkin-colored Mars, which will shine conspicuously about 5° above it. At magnitude -1.3, Mars will be only a trifle dimmer than Sirius, the brightest of all stars. Still, compared to the way it appeared six weeks ago, it’s now only one-third as bright.

November 30—The Full Beaver Moon 4:30 a.m.

There will also be a penumbral lunar eclipse this morning, with most of North America able to see it. With more than four-fifths of the Moon becoming immersed the faint penumbral shadow a noticeable shading effect should be evident over the Moon’s upper limb for some minutes around the time of mid-eclipse at 4:42 a.m. EST (1:42 a.m. PST).

By Farmers’ Almanac Astronomer Joe Rao. This calendar is adapted from “Skylog,” a regular feature appearing in Natural History magazine written by Mr. Rao since 1995.


This movie shows the sky towards the North, with the pole star Polaris labeled from 8:03pm until 4:03am on the night of 1999 September 28/29 as seen from Columbus, Ohio. Columbus is located at 40 degrees North latitude, so Polaris appears at an altitude of 40 degress above the North horizon. All stars closer to Polaris than 40 degrees will neither rise nor set, hence they are "circumpolar" stars. Stars farther from the pole than 40 degrees are seen to rise and set as the movie progresses.

Movie by Rick Pogge, composed using Starry Night Pro (v3.0)


Moon Packed with Precious Titanium, NASA Probe Finds

A new map of the moon has uncovered a trove of areas rich in precious titanium ore, with some lunar rocks harboring 10 times as much of the stuff as rocks here on Earth do.

The map, which combined observations in visible and ultraviolet wavelengths, revealed the valuable titanium deposits. These findings could shed light on some of the mysteries of the lunar interior, and could also lay the groundwork for future mining on the moon, researchers said.

"Looking up at the moon, its surface appears painted with shades of grey &mdash at least to the human eye," Mark Robinson, of Arizona State University, said in a statement. "The maria appear reddish in some places and blue in others. Although subtle, these color variations tell us important things about the chemistry and evolution of the lunar surface. They indicate the titanium and iron abundance, as well as the maturity of a lunar soil." [See the new moon map photos]

The results of the study were presented Friday (Oct. 7) at the joint meeting of the European Planetary Science Congress and the American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Sciences in Nantes, France.

Mapping the lunar surface

The map of the moon's surface was constructed using data from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), which has been circling the moon since June 2009. The probe's wide angle camera snapped pictures of the surface in seven different wavelengths at different resolutions.

Since specific minerals strongly reflect or absorb different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, LRO's instruments were able to give scientists a clearer picture of the chemical composition of the moon's surface.

Robinson and his colleagues stitched together a mosaic using roughly 4,000 images that had been collected by the spacecraft over one month.

The researchers scanned the lunar surface and compared the brightness in the range of wavelengths from ultraviolet to visible light, picking out areas that are abundant in titanium. The scientists then cross-referenced their findings with lunar samples that were brought back to Earth from NASA's Apollo flights and the Russian Luna missions.

These titanium-rich areas on the moon puzzled the researchers. The highest abundance of titanium in similar rocks on Earth hovers around 1 percent or less, the scientists explained. The new map shows that these troves of titanium on the moon range from about 1 percent to a little more than 10 percent.

"We still don't really understand why we find much higher abundances of titanium on the moon compared to similar types of rocks on Earth," Robinson said. "What the lunar titanium-richness does tell us is something about the conditions inside the moon shortly after it formed, knowledge that geochemists value for understanding the evolution of the moon."

Valuable titanium ore

Titanium on the moon is primarily found in the mineral ilmenite, a compound that contains iron, titanium and oxygen. If humans one day mine on the moon, they could break down ilmenite to separate these elements.

Furthermore, Apollo data indicated that titanium-rich minerals are more efficient at retaining solar wind particles, such as helium and hydrogen. These gases would likely be vital resources in the construction of lunar colonies and for exploration of the moon, the researchers said. [Lunar Legacy: 45 Apollo Moon Mission Photos]

"Astronauts will want to visit places with both high scientific value and a high potential for resources that can be used to support exploration activities," Robinson said. "Areas with high titanium provide both &mdash a pathway to understanding the interior of the moon and potential mining resources."

The lunar map also shows how space weather changes the surface of the moon. Charged particles from solar wind and micrometeorite impacts can change the moon's surface materials, pulverizing rock into a fine powder and altering the chemical composition of the lunar surface.

"One of the exciting discoveries we've made is that the effects of weathering show up much more quickly in ultraviolet than in visible or infrared wavelengths," study co-author Brett Denevi, of Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., said in a statement. "In the [Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera] ultraviolet mosaics, even craters that we thought were very young appear relatively mature. Only small, very recently formed craters show up as fresh regolith exposed on the surface."


A crescent-shaped moon appears directly after the first lunar phase. The moon’s shape resembles a crescent and increases in size each day. This lunar phase lasts until 50% of its lit surface is illuminated. "Waxing" refers to the fact that the Moon’s crescent shape is increasing in size. The waxing crescent moon becomes visible at night.

A first quarter moon, also referred to as a half moon, appears seven days after the lunar month begins. The right side of the Moon is visible in the Northern Hemisphere, while people living in the Southern Hemisphere see the left half.


Annular Eclipse

Clouds partially cover the annular eclipse of 2012. During an annular eclipse, the Moon isn't quite big enough to cover the entire solar disk. That leaves a thin but bright ring of fire around the Sun. An annular eclipse will be visible across parts of Canada and other high northern regions on June 10. A partial eclipse will be visible from the northeastern third of the United States. [ National Park Service ]

A “ring of fire” will pass across the top of the world early tomorrow — an annular solar eclipse. It occurs as the new Moon crosses between Earth and the Sun, so the shadow of the Moon passes across our planet. A partial eclipse will be visible across a wedge of the United States.

An annular eclipse takes place when the Moon is a little farther from Earth than average. That makes it appear a little smaller than average, so it’s not quite wide enough to cover the entire solar disk, as it does during a total eclipse. As a result, a bright “ring of fire” surrounds the intervening Moon. For this eclipse, the Moon will cover almost 90 percent of the Sun.

The annular eclipse begins over southern Ontario at 5:50 a.m. local time. The lunar shadow will move northwestward, then curl over the north pole before disappearing over Siberia. The path of the annular eclipse will be up to about 330 miles wide. And the Moon will remain encircled by the Sun for a maximum of less than four minutes.

A partial eclipse will cover a wider area, with the Moon covering at least a fraction of the Sun. This portion of the eclipse will be visible as the Sun rises over roughly the northeastern third of the United States. The Sun will be too bright to look at directly, though, so use eclipse glasses or other safe screening to protect your eyes. Or you can watch the entire event online.

Tomorrow: a telescope that’s on the ground and in space.

Script by Damond Benningfield


First Quarter Moon (50% illuminated)

When the moon is changing from a crescent moon to a full moon, what do we get in between? In other words, What phase of the moon would be visible 7 days after a new moon? Well, it’s a 1st Quarter Moon Phase.

The third phase of the moon is called the First Quarter Moon. In fact, the first quarter means that the moon is one-fourth of the way through the lunar cycle. Hence the name “First Quarter Moon”. The First Quarter moon always occurs one week after the new moon lunar phase.

In fact, sometimes, it is also called Half Moon. Simply because we see exactly half (right side) of the illuminated portion of the Moon’s Lunar Surface.


Phases of the Moon

In the sketch below, the Sun is located far off to the left, well off the screen. The small arrows on the left show the direction of incoming sunlight. Both the Earth and Moon always have one half illuminated by sunlight. The sketch is not to scale, and the view is from above Earth's North Pole. As the Moon orbits the Earth, we see all the phases cycle through once per 29 days, labeled with numbers 1-8. Meanwhile, the Earth spins counter-clockwise once per day. Sunrise, noon, sunset and midnight are labeled A, B, C and D.

1. New The dark side of the Moon faces the Earth. Person A sees the new moon rise at sunrise. Person B sees the new moon at its highest point at noon. Person C sees the new moon set at sunset. Person D does not see the new moon at midnight. A solar eclipse (moon blocking the sun) is possible at this phase.

2. Waxing crescent Less than 1/2 of the Moon's illuminated surface can be seen from Earth. Each day the crescent appears a little thicker. Person A does not see the moon at sunrise. Person B sees the moon rising in the East at noon. Person C sees the moon setting in the West at sunset. Person D does not see the moon at midnight.

3. First Quarter Exactly 1/2 of the Moon's illuminated surface can be seen from Earth. Person A cannot see the moon at sunrise. Person B sees the moon rise at noon. Person C sees the moon at its highest point at sunset. Person D sees the moon set at midnight.

4. Waxing gibbous More than 1/2 of the Moon's illuminated surface can be seen from Earth. Each day the gibbous appears a little thicker. Person A does not see the moon at sunrise. Person B does not see the moon at noon. Person C sees the moon rising in the East at sunset. Person D sees the moon setting in the West at midnight.

5. Full The illuminated side of the Moon faces the Earth. Person A sees the full moon set at sunrise. Person B does not see the full moon at noon. Person C sees the full moon rise at sunset. Person D sees the full moon at its highest point at midnight. A lunar eclipse (Earth's shadow on the moon) is possible at this phase.

6. Waning gibbous More than 1/2 of the Moon's illuminated surface can be seen from Earth. Each day the gibbous appears a little thinner. Person A sees the moon setting in the West at sunrise. Person B does not see the moon at noon. Person C does not see the moon at sunset. Person D sees the moon rising in the East at midnight.

7. Third Quarter Exactly 1/2 of the Moon's illuminated surface can be seen from Earth. Person A sees the moon at its highest point at sunrise. Person B sees the moon set at noon. Person C does not see the moon at sunset. Person D sees the moon rise at midnight.

8. Waning crescent Less than 1/2 of the Moon's illuminated surface can be seen from Earth. Each day the crescent appears a little thinner. Person A sees the moon rising in the East at sunrise. Person B sees the moon setting in the West at noon. Person C does not see the moon at sunset. Person D does not see the moon at midnight.


July 5, 2020

As mentioned above, the next full Moon will be early Sunday morning, July 5, 2020, appearing opposite the Sun at 12:44 a.m. EDT. This will be a partial penumbral eclipse of the Moon, visible from most of North America, but the slight reduction in brightness on part of the Moon will be difficult to notice with the human eye. The Moon will start to enter the partial shadow on Saturday night, July 4, 2020, at 11:07 p.m. EDT. On Sunday morning at 12:30 a.m. (the peak of the eclipse) about 35 percent of the Moon will be in the partial shadow. The Moon will finish exiting the partial shadow of the Earth at 1:52 a.m.

On Sunday night into Monday morning, July 5 to 6, 2020, the full Moon and the planets Jupiter and Saturn will form a triangle. The Moon will appear in the southeast at about 3 degrees above the horizon as evening twilight ends, with Jupiter above the Moon and Saturn to the left of the Moon. The Moon will reach its highest in the sky for the night on Monday morning (at 2:11 a.m. EDT for the Washington, D.C. area), with Jupiter to the right and Saturn above, and the Moon will be about 19 degrees above the horizon in the southwest as morning twilight begins (at 4:38 a.m. EDT).


This map shows where the May 26 lunar eclipse is visible. Contours mark the edge of the region where the eclipse will be visible at the times when the moon enters or leaves the umbra (the part of the Earth's shadow where the sun is completely hidden) and penumbra (the part where the sun is only partially blocked).

First, a clear sky is needed. People all over the world will be able to see at least some of the supermoon. It's basically a big, bright version of the full moon, and this one will have a red glow, giving it the blood moon moniker. It will be highest in the sky late at night and in the early morning hours.

The lunar eclipse is visible for a much shorter time, and it will need to be viewed when the moon is deepest in shadow. It will last for approximately 15 minutes in each part of the world it travels through. The total lunar eclipse will be visible close to the time of moonset in the western U.S. and Canada, all of Mexico, most of Central America and Ecuador, western Peru, and southern Chile and Argentina. In the Asian Pacific Rim, just after the moon rises, the total eclipse will be visible, according to NASA.

For the partial eclipse, this will take place as the moon moves into and out of the Earth's shadow. This will be visible from the eastern U.S. and Canada right before the moon sets in the morning and from India, Nepal, western China, Mongolia, and eastern Russia immediately after the moon rises in the morning, according to NASA.

People in eastern Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands, including Hawaii, will see both the total and the partial eclipse, according to NASA.

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