CAA member Frank Shoemaker, despite challenging seeing conditions and the early hour, captured a fine image of the September 14 conjunction of Earth’s Moon and planet Venus. As luck would have it, the conjunction occurred in constellation Cancer home of the lovely open cluster M44, the “Beehive”. The technical info.: Canon EOS 6D Mark 2, 100mm, f/4.5, 19 seconds, 5:29 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time.
The eyes of stargazers have largely been focused on comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) of late but there are other dazzling sights the cosmos offers; among them is Earth’s Moon.
CAA member Alan Studt has been pursuing a project to photograph — as possible — Moon every day through its cycle of phases. He has captured most phases thus far. At the time of this writing, Luna was in her waning crescent phase with the sliver of lighted disk growing slimmer by the day. The crescent phases offer dramatic views of Moon due to low-angle sunlight casting longer shadows from lunar surface features.
Above is our Moon seen the morning of July 17, 2020, day 27 of the Lunar cycle – 10% illumination – 394,051.09 km away. Studt’s technicals: Four shots stitched, Nikon D850, 4400mm, f/20, ISO 2000, 1/80th sec.
Below is Moon accompanied by planet Venus, accentuated by sunrise-tinted thin clouds. Settings: Nikon D850, 350mm, F/5.6, ISO 250, 1/100th sec.
We’re fortunate that the night of July 4 is expected to be clear, and not just for the traditional booms and flashes of celebratory fireworks. Our Moon is getting in on the act, albeit with a much more subtle display in the form of a penumbral eclipse. The eclipse will take place from 11:07 PM to 1:52 AM EDT with maximum eclipse at 12:31 AM July 5.
We say subtle because, unlike a total lunar eclipse, Earth’s Moon will not change to reddish/coppery colors. The Moon will instead become oddly shadowed for a Full Moon, as it enters the outer fringes of Earth’s shadow in space — the penumbra. Only the “top” portion of Luna will pass through the penumbra making this eclipse especially slight. Still, it’s worth a look and it won’t be at a particularly late hour. A deeper penumbral lunar eclipse will take place the night of November 30, 2020.
While it’s possible to view this eclipse with the unaided eye, binoculars will provide an enhanced view as would a small telescope.
And just in case there’s any confusion, lunar eclipses are perfectly safe to view and photograph — it’s moonlight — so nothing to worry about there.
If you shoot any photos or have impressions to share with us, you can do so via our Twitter — @Cuyastro
NASA Eclipse Page available here: Penumbral Lunar Eclipse of July 4 – 5, 2020.
by William Murmann, CAA President