It's ALL About ME!, Mommy-hood, You Can Quote Me On This...

The Last Page & Thank You’s

As I lay there on the operating room table, staring at the lights above, I remember for the 50th time what I’m doing there, and why.

I start to cry.

I then feel a gentle hand squeeze mine.

As my tears continue to roll softly and quietly down my face, again, I feel a light squeeze of reassurance. I look to my left and I see my OB Doctor, Dr. Brenner, standing there – holding my hand, squeezing gently.

I then look to my right and I see my OR Nurses quickly and quietly preparing the OR for my emergency D&C.

The last thing I remember is laying on the operating table, staring at the operating room lights above, continuing to cry softly with tears streaming down my face.

I know that when I awake I’ll no longer be pregnant – I’ll no longer have ‘my baby’.

I continue to cry as they put the oxygen mask to my face and tell me to count backwards from 10.

10… 9… 8… …

… … …  Months Later – Florida, Sunday, August 20th – My ‘Due Date’ … … …

I stand alone in ocean, one hand dangling in the water, the other holding my last sonogram picture. As a wave approaches I say my final prayer of hope and love, and I submerge the photo under the water, right as the wave breaks on me.

The photo is gone. Gone with the wave. Gone with the ocean. Gone.

For the next 30 minutes I stand there in the middle of the ocean, alone. I relive the last few months – the heartbreak, the PTSD, the postpartum, the gut-wrenching anxiety, the bottomless depression, the sleepless nights,  the ‘what if’s’… remembering the love I received.

It’s the love that I received from my family and friends that has brought me to this moment. In this moment, I’m finally at peace.

My heart can finally let go. My heart can finally have closure.

picture… … …

If you are like me, I always read the last page of a book – first. I don’t know why, but that’s the kind of person I am.

With the last page written, I can move on.

So, without further adieu my ‘Thank You’s’ – the most important chapter of this book.

My Husband, Dave– You took every step WITH me, and held my hand. From the moment the ER nurse said “I’m sorry, I’m not hopeful”, after conducting our sonogram and not hearing a heartbeat, you refused to let go of my hand as we waited for the ER Dr to ‘actually’ tell us we lost our baby. As I screamed in the ER, you held me tighter than ever before. In the days and months that passed, even on my darkest days, even when I tried my hardest to push you away – you stayed. You stayed. You stayed next to me, you stayed with me, you pushed me to seek help when needed, and stayed by my side. Without you and your love and support, I don’t know where I’d be, and for that I’m eternally thankful for your love. I’m thankful for ‘OUR’ love.

My Best Friend, Bre– No words can describe how thankful I am for YOU, so I’ll give it a shot. From the moment I found out I was pregnant…well really, when ‘we’ found out ‘we’ were pregnant. From watching the ‘pregnant’ come up on the EPT, via FaceTime, because we’re BFF’s like that; to the gut wrenching events of my miscarriage, you were and always have been ‘my person’.  Post-miscarriage you listed to me cry (daily) during our 3+ hour commute. You lived and re-lived every graphic detail, over and over, probably more times than you’ve wanted to – but you did it for me. You gave me hope when there was none. You gave me light, on my darkest days. And when I literally broke, on 3 separate occasions, you were there to pick up the pieces. You escorted me away, so I could breakdown in private – with you. You held my hand and encouraged me when my PTSD, postpartum depression and anxiety became out of my control. You cheered me on, believed in me, and were proud when I took that step to seek help. Even when your life was turned upside-down, you never left my side. There is nothing I can do or say to express my love for you, as my best friend. I’m thankful I have you with me everyday, for 11+ hours a day (~3 commuting, ~8 working side-by-side), only God knows where I’d be if I didn’t have your love, support, and encouragement. I’ve always cherished our friendship, but now more than ever do I realize how important you are to me. I’m forever grateful for our love, the BFF kind 😉 The only real words I have for you are “I love you”, and you and I both know that comes from the heart.

My Best Friend, Melissa– When I came to the realization that I simply couldn’t be home on my ‘due date’, we started looking at the map and airline tickets. You willingly accompanied me on my journey to Florida so I could sit in the sand, watch the waves, feel the sunshine, and heal.  On my due date, we went to (our now) favorite beach and you watched me as I let go (of my last sonogram) and began the healing process. I love you more than words and I’m thankful I had you with me on my journey.

My Sister In-Law, Lisa– From First sonogram to the last sonogram, I know you loved Baby B. When my miscarriage started you were my first call and you calmed my fears – even though they later turned into reality. You held me as I cried at the OB’s office, and escorted me away when a (very) happy and pregnant lady sat next to me in the waiting room, while I was waiting for my emergency D&C to be scheduled. You are who I vent to when I’m asked about ‘Baby #2’, and you are constantly supporting my/our decision, whatever that may be, whatever the future may be. I love the love we have, and the next generation of Bellucci’s we’ve built.

My Other Best Friends, you know who you are– Your constant companionship truly got me through my darkest days. From daily motivational talks, texts, and SnapChats. Sending me random pictures of your kid/dogs being, well, themselves, gave me moments of laughter – for that I’m beyond thankful. Your late night texts, during my bouts of insomnia (now, thank you Ambien), made my nights less dark. Your endless encouragement, and play dates with babies/kids, getting me out of the house, and making me forget reality, if only for a few hours. Joining me in poolside spritzers, or just coming over for dinner. My love for you all is endless, and I wish I could truly express just how I feel for all of you.

My Parents– There is no greater love and support given, than that of a parent. I love you both.

My Colleagues– This is an interesting one. There is a small handful of people at work who 1) knew I was pregnant 2) knew I  later suffered a miscarriage 3) held my hand post-miscarriage.

  1. From my amazing boss/mentor who truly understood everything I was going through, and never let me forget how much I was valued as an employee/team member, even on the days I doubted myself and my work. You knew when I needed support and when I needed space. More importantly, you always wanted me to succeed in ‘this journey’ both professionally and personally.
  2. To my colleague who’s on their own journey. We bonded over loss, healing, and a pair of RayBans I stole found in the MCO airport security. Our candid talks are inspirational and always give me encouragement. Even thought I’m going through hell, you are too, and I think (and pray) for you daily. Hoping my semi- weekly memes give you the same laughter they give me.
  3. The ONE individuals call I took the day of my emergency D&C. You don’t know this, but you were the ONE ‘non-family member’ who I talked to the day of my miscarriage/emergency D&C. Even though you too, were going through your own personal journey, you never lost sight of me. And when I needed shelter at work, and messaged you that I was occupying your office because I needed a quiet space, you left your meeting just so you could comfort me. It’s our work that brought us together, but it’s the love and compassion that made us friends in the end. For that I’m thankful.
  4. To the individual who’d drop everything to meet me whenever I’d come into town, either for work or pleasure. Our (endless) 5 mile hike was what my heart needed then (a few weeks post-miscarriage). And taking me to see the manatees/dolphins, just recently, THAT truly made my day/month/year. Again, it’s our work that brought us together, but our friendship is true and genuine, and for that I’m thankful… and I’m beyond thankful for your ‘tour guiding’.
  5. My ‘Team’ who stood by my side, sent me flowers, and gave me daily pep-talks – often on my darkest days. Some have helped me on my journey more than others, but all played a bigger part as a ‘Team’. Thank you.
  6. My remote ‘Team’, work-partners, and colleagues from all different Centers. Each one of you has played a different role. From mid-day IM pick-me-ups, to all day conversations regarding the projects we’re working. I value the work relationships and friendships we have, and wouldn’t trade them for the world. All of you make my work day 100x better. 🙂
  7. Lastly, to the person who knows the details of my miscarriage and my journey almost as well as Dave and Bre, and who makes me laugh and smile on the regular – thank you. Evey single day I look forward to your “yoyoyoyo”, so don’t ever stop – ever. My day isn’t complete, unless we’ve chatted. I know it’s sometimes not expressed and reciprocated, but you’ll never know how much you mean to me as a friend – and for that, I thank you. Slack(ing) brought us together, and I’m eternally grateful for the friendship, our HI HH, and laughing so hard we cry. Spaghetti Dinner and Bingo, anyone?

My Therapist, (Name Redacted)– I’ll keep this short, as all conversations are private 😉 Thank you. Thank you for your bottom-less tissue box and our weekly sessions. You give me hope and new insights every week and taught me that everything is: A Reason, A Season, or A Lifetime… and to invest wisely.

This ‘Thank You’ could go on forever, but truthfully, I’ve finished a whole tissue box just writing the above – so I’ll stop here.

In conclusion,

THANK YOU

Love,

LAMB

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Space & Science... Nerd Alert!, Uncategorized

The Next Full Moon is the Hunter’s Moon

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Photo credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Twas the night before launch…

The Orbital ATK Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft onboard, sits on launch Pad-0A at our Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Liftoff is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 16 at 8:03 p.m. EDT. This cargo resupply mission will deliver over 5,100 pounds of science, research and supplies to the orbiting laboratory and its crew.

Watch live coverage starting at 7 p.m. Details: http://go.nasa.gov/2dTWpSX

 

The next full Moon will be just after midnight on Sunday morning, October 16, 2016, appearing “opposite” the Sun (in Earth-based longitude) at 12:23 AM EDT, right in the middle of the weekend. The Moon will appear full for about three days around this time, from Friday evening through Monday morning, making this a full Moon weekend.

This is the Hunter’s Moon, the full Moon after the Harvest Moon. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, with the leaves falling and the deer fattened, it is time to hunt. Since the harvesters have reaped the fields, hunters can easily see the animals that have come out to glean (and the foxes that have come out to prey on them). The earliest use of the term “Hunter’s Moon” cited in the Oxford English Dictionary is from 1710.

As the early Fall Moon or first full Moon after the Autumnal Equinox, this full Moon is also called the Travel Moon, Dying Grass Moon, and the Sanguine or Blood Moon. This full Moon is also Sharad Purnima or Kojaagari Purnima, a harvest festival celebrated on the full Moon day of the Hindu lunar month of Ashvin. The rainy season is over and the brightness of the full Moon brings special joy. This is a traditional celebration of the Moon and is also called the Kaumudi celebration, Kaumudi meaning moonlight. For more information on the Hindu traditions associated with this full Moon see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharad_Purnima

In lunisolar calendars the months change with the new Moon and full Moons fall in the middle of the lunar month. This full Moon is the middle of the ninth month of the Chinese calendar and Tishri in the Hebrew calendar. The high holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur occur during the first weeks of Tishri, and his full Moon corresponds with the start of the Sukkoth holiday.

In the Islamic calendar the months start with the first sighting of the waxing crescent Moon a few days after the New Moon. This full Moon is near the middle of Muharram, the first month of the calendar, one of the four sacred months of the year.

As usual, the wearing of suitably celebratory celestial attire is encouraged in honor of the full Moon.

As for other celestial sights between now and the full Moon after next:

In early autumn the daily periods of sunlight continue to shorten. For the Washington, DC area, on the day of the October full Moon, morning twilight will begin at 6:21 AM, sunrise will be at 7:19 AM, the Sun will reach a maximum altitude of 41.9 degrees at 12:53 PM, sunset will be at 6:27 PM, and evening twilight will end at 7:25 PM EDT. By the day of the November full Moon, we will have switched from Daylight Savings to Standard Time, morning twilight will begin at 5:50 AM, sunrise will be at 6:50 AM, the Sun will reach a maximum altitude of 32.7 degrees at 11:52 AM, sunset will be at 4:55 PM, and evening twilight will end at 5:55 PM EST.

On the evening of the October full Moon, as evening twilight ends, the planet Venus appears low in the west-southwest. Low in the southwest the bright planet Saturn will appear above the bright star Antares. The planet Mars will appear higher and more to the south-southwest. Our home galaxy, the Milky Way, will be spread across the sky from the south-southwest to the north-northeast, but with all the artificial lighting now in use, 80 percent of us in the USA can no longer see it (according to a global night sky atlas from the Light Pollution Science and Technology Institute). Although the center of the milky way is in the sky, we are looking away from the local arm of our galaxy, so relatively fewer bright stars are visible than in the morning sky. The most prominent visible stars appear almost directly overhead, Altair, Deneb, and Vega, the brightest stars in the three constellations of Aquila, Cygnus, and Lyra, respectively. We call this trio of stars the Summer Triangle. Altair (17 light years from Earth) appears to the south, Deneb (800 light years from Earth) to the north-northeast, and the brightest of the three, Vega (25 light years from Earth) to the northwest. As October progresses the stars will appear to shift each night towards the west. Venus as the evening star will appear to skirt along the horizon towards the south until Saturn, Venus, and Antares appear to line up the evening of October 27, 2016.

On the morning of the October full Moon, as morning twilight begins, the planet Jupiter will appear low in the east, having passed around the far side of the Sun as seen from Earth (and moved from the evening to the morning sky) on September 26. Our home galaxy, the Milky Way, will be spread across the sky, from the south-southeast to the the north-northeast (although we can only see it from a very dark location far from city lights). Although we will be looking away from the center of the galaxy, we will be looking towards the local galactic arm, so we can see many more bright stars, including the brightest of the stars, Sirius. The planet Mercury will also be visible in the glow of dawn, rising below Jupiter about 45 minutes before sunrise, but over the course of the next few mornings Mercury will appear to shift nearer to the rising Sun and become harder to see each morning. As the month progresses, Mercury will vanish from view, while Jupiter will appear higher each morning. The bright stars of the local arm of the Milky Way will appear to shift further toward the west each evening.

The annual Orionid meteor shower, caused from debris from Halley’s comet hitting the Earth’s atmosphere, will be active from October 4 to November 14, 2016, peaking early in the morning of October 21, 2016. This year, the light from the waning gibbous Moon will interfere with observing meteors at the peak of this shower.

Even though they are not visible usually, I include in these Moon missives information about Near Earth Objects (mostly asteroids) that pass the Earth within about 15 lunar distances, because I find it interesting that we have discovered so many. On Thursday evening, October 13, 2016 at 7:44 PM EDT (2016-Oct-13 23:44 UTC), Near Earth Object (2016 TX17), between 53 and 119 meters (174 to 389 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at between 15.9 and 16.3 lunar distances (nominally 16.1), traveling at 17.41 kilometers per second (38,941 miles per hour).

Although not visible without a telescope, Saturday, October 15, 2016, at 6:15 AM EDT, is when the planet Uranus will be at Opposition, or opposite the Sun in Earth-based longitude, and at its brightest and closest to the Earth for the year.

On Saturday night, October 15, 2016 at 10:20 PM EDT (2016-Oct-16 02:20 UTC), Near Earth Object (1993 TZ), between 17 and 38 meters (55 to 123 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at 14.4 lunar distances, traveling at 12.71 kilometers per second (28,438 miles per hour).

As mentioned above, the next full Moon will be just after midnight on Sunday, October 16, 2016, at 12:23 AM EDT. The full Moons in October, November, and December will be what some people call “SuperMoons,” although the November full Moon will be closer and brighter than the October or December full Moons.

On Sunday evening, October 16, 2016 at 6:23 PM EDT (2016-Oct-16 22:23 UTC with), Near Earth Object (2016 TH10), between 31 and 68 meters (100 to 224 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at between 7.2 and 7.4 lunar distances (nominally 7.3), traveling at 12.39 kilometers per second (27,710 miles per hour).

Sunday evening, October 16, 2016, at 7:36 PM EDT, the Moon will be at perigee, its closest to the Earth for this orbit. At 357,900 km from Earth, the Moon will be almost 14% closer than it will be when it is at apogee at the end of October.

On Monday night, October 17, 2016 at 11:49 PM EDT (2016-Oct-18 03:49 UTC with), Near Earth Object (2014 UR), between 13 and 28 meters (42 to 93 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at 12.0 lunar distances, traveling at 4.31 kilometers per second (9,636 miles per hour).

On Tuesday evening, October 18, 2016 at 6:31 PM EDT (2016-Oct-18 22:31 UTC), Near Earth Object (2016 TE55), between 18 and 39 meters (58 to 129 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at between 13.0 and 13.3 lunar distances (nominally 13.2), traveling at 12.99 kilometers per second (29,069 miles per hour).

On Tuesday evening, October 18, 2016, into Wednesday morning, October 19, 2016, the bright star Aldebaran will appear near the waning gibbous Moon. Aldebaran will appear so near that the Moon will pass in front of Aldebaran and block it from view. For the Washington, DC area (exact times will vary depending upon your location), the Moon will rise at 8:44 PM EDT and Aldebaran will rise below and to the left of the Moon about 10 minutes later. Aldebaran will disappear behind the bright limb of the Moon on Wednesday morning at 1:37 AM. My experience is that even with binoculars, the bright Moon will make it hard to see Aldebaran disappear. You should be able to see Aldebaran suddenly reappear from behind the dark, upper right limb of the Moon at about 2:43 AM. The Moon and Aldebaran will be at their highest in the sky for the morning at 3:55 AM. Morning twilight will begin at 6:24 AM.

Friday morning, October 21, 2016, just after midnight, is the predicted peak of the annual Orionid Meteor Shower. This year, the light of the waning gibbous Moon will make it difficult to see these meteors. The Orionids are specs of dust from Halley’s Comet that enter the Earth’s atmosphere at about 67 kilometers per second (150,000 miles per hour).

On Saturday morning, October 22, 2016, the half-full Moon will appear to line up between the bright stars Procyon and Pollux. As they rise in the east-northeast, Pollux will appear to the upper left and Procyon to the lower right of the Moon.

Saturday afternoon, October 22, 2016, the waning Moon will appear half-full as it reaches its last quarter at 3:14 PM EDT.

On Tuesday morning, October 25, 2016, the bright star Regulus will appear above the waning crescent Moon. For the Washington, DC area, Regulus will rise at 2:18 AM EDT and the Moon will rise 15 minutes later. Morning twilight will begin around 6:30 AM.

On Tuesday evening, October 25, 2016, and again on Wednesday evening, October 26, 2016, the bright planet Venus will appear low in the southwest above the bright star Antares, with Saturn appearing higher above the pair. Venus and Antares will pass at their closest on Wednesday morning when we are not able to see them from the Washington, DC area.

Thursday, October 27, 2016, at 11:53 AM EDT, is when the planet Mercury passes around the far side of the Sun as seen from Earth, called Superior Conjunction.

On Thursday mid-day, October 27, 2016 at 12:47 PM EDT (2016-Oct-27 16:47 UTC), Near Earth Object 413260 (2003 TL4), between 350 and 784 meters (1/5 to 1/2 mile) in diameter, will pass the Earth at 10.1 lunar distances, traveling at 10.35 kilometers per second (23,145 miles per hour).

Thursday evening, October 27, 2016, the bright planet Venus as the evening star will appear in the southwest in a vertical line between the planet Saturn and the bright star Antares. For the Washington, DC area, when evening twilight ends at 7:12 PM EDT, Saturn will appear 11 degrees above the horizon, Venus 7 degrees above the horizon, and Antares 4 degrees above the horizon. Antares will set around 7:41 PM, Venus at 8:01 PM, and Saturn at 8:23 PM EDT.

On Friday morning, October 28, 2016, if you have a clear view of the eastern horizon, you might catch a glimpse of the planet Jupiter to the right of the thin, waning crescent Moon. For the Washington, DC area, the Moon and Jupiter will rise together around 5:26 AM EDT. Morning twilight will begin around 6:33 AM.

On Saturday morning, October 29, 2016 at around 1:51 AM EDT (2016-Oct-29 05:51 UTC with 30 minutes uncertainty), Near Earth Object (2016 TZ19), between 58 and 130 meters (191 to 427 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at between 18.2 and 19.7 lunar distances (nominally 18.9), traveling at 16.46 kilometers per second (36,819 miles per hour).

On Saturday evening, October 29, 2016, the planet Venus as the evening star will appear at its closest to the planet Saturn, just 3 degrees apart and about 10 degrees above the horizon in the southwest, with the bright star Antares appearing below (about 3 degrees above the horizon).

Sunday, October 30, 2016, at 12:38 PM EDT, will be the new Moon, when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from the Earth.

On Halloween morning, Monday, October 31, 2016 at 5:25 AM EDT (2016-Oct-31 09:25 UTC), Near Earth Object 164121 (2003 YT1), between 1,530 and 3,420 meters (about 1 to 2 miles) in diameter, will pass the Earth at 13.5 lunar distances, traveling at 24.06 kilometers per second (53,818 miles per hour).

On Halloween, Monday, October 31, 2016, at 2:29 PM EDT, the Moon will be at apogee, 406,700 km from Earth, its farthest for this orbit.

Monday, October 31, 2016, is Halloween. According to Wikipedia, the word dates back to about 1745 and comes from the Scottish term for All Hallows’ Eve, and All Hallows’ is a term that dates back to Old English. Basically Europeans have used two ways to divide the year into seasons and define winter. The old Celtic calendar used in much of pre-Christian Europe considered winter to be the the quarter of the year with the shortest periods of daylight and the longest periods of night, so that Winter started around Halloween and ended around Groundhog Day. Many scholars think our Halloween customs trace back to the ancient Celtic celebrations for the start of winter under the older Celtic calendar. However, since it takes time for our planet to cool off, the quarter year with the coldest average temperatures starts later than the quarter year with the shortest days. In our modern calendar we approximate this by having Winter start on the winter solstice and end on the spring equinox. Based on historical data for the Washington, DC area, the quarter year with the coldest average temperatures actually starts the first week of December and ends the first week of March.

On Wednesday evening, November 2, 2016, the waxing crescent Moon will join the cluster of Saturn, Antares, and Venus, low on the southwestern horizon. If you have a clear view of the horizon, you should be able to see the Moon on top, Saturn below the Moon, Antares below Saturn close to the horizon, and Venus off to the left. Mars will be visible as well, higher in the sky and more to the south.

On Thursday evening, November 3, 2016, sometime around 9:38 PM EDT (2016-Nov-04 01:38 UTC with 1 hour and 21 minutes uncertainty), Near Earth Object (2016 TG55), between 19 and 43 meters (63 to 141 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at between 3.8 and 3.9 lunar distances (nominally 3.9), traveling at 5.98 kilometers per second (13,388 miles per hour).

Late Friday night into early Saturday morning, November 5, 2016, is the predicted peak of the South Taurid meteor shower. This shower is a broad shower lasting from about September 25 to November 25. Because this shower is so broad, it does not have a strong peak. Under good viewing conditions far from city lights the peak is expected to be only about 7 meteors per hour. Although few in numbers, the Taurids tend to have a larger percentage of bright fireballs compared to most meteor showers.

Saturday, November 5, 2016, for those parts of the U.S. that use Daylight Savings Time, will be the latest sunrise (darkest morning) of the year. For the Washington, DC area, sunrise will be at 7:40 AM EDT, a 13 minutes later than the latests sunrises after the winter solstice. The 12 days from October 25 to November 5 will be the darkest mornings of 2016.

For the Washington, DC area at least, the sunrise at 7:40 am EDT on Saturday, November 5, 2016, will be the latest sunrise of the year, 18 minutes later that the sunrise at 7:22 am EDT on March 13, 2016 (the start of Daylight Savings Time) and 13 minutes later than the winter sunrises at 7:27 am EST in late December and early January. The 12 days from October 25 to November 5, 2016 will be the darkest mornings with sunrises later than at any other time of the year. If it seems particularly difficult to get up in the mornings the last week in October and the beginning of November, this may be why (and if it is not why, this is still a good excuse to sleep in).

In the evening of Saturday, November 5, and again in the evening of Sunday, November 6, 2016, the planet Mars will appear near the waxing crescent Moon. On Saturday Mars will be to the lower left of the Moon, and by Sunday the Moon will have shifted so that Mars is to the lower right of the Moon.

On Sunday, November 6, 2016, don’t forget to set your clocks back an hour as we “Fall Back” with the end of Daylight Savings Time.

On Monday morning, November 7, 2016 at 1:01 AM EST (2016-Nov-07 06:01 UTC), Near Earth Object (2002 UQ12), between 97 and 216 meters (317 to 708 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at 19.4 lunar distances, traveling at 20.08 kilometers per second (44,923 miles per hour).

On Monday, November 7, 2016, the Moon will appear half-full as it reaches its first quarter at 2:51 PM EST.

Sometime around Thursday morning, November 10, 2016 (2016-Nov-10 13:33 UTC with 1 day, 5 hours, and 6 minutes uncertainty), Near Earth Object (2004 KB), between 160 and 358 meters (525 to 1,175 feet or about 1/10 to 1/4 mile) in diameter, will pass the Earth at between 8.7 and 28.4 lunar distances (nominally 10.0), traveling at 13.52 kilometers per second (30,247 miles per hour).

Late Friday night into early Saturday morning, November 12, 2016, is the predicted peak of the North Taurid meteor shower. This shower is a broad shower lasting from about October 12 to December 2. Just like the South Taurids, because this shower is so broad, it does not have a strong peak. Unlike the earlier South Taurids, the light of the waxing gibbous Moon will make it hard to see the fainter meteors, the Taurids tend to have a larger percentage of bright fireballs compared to most meteor showers, and although rare, these would be visible.

Monday, November 14, 2016, at 6:23 AM EST, the Moon will be at perigee, its closest to the Earth for this orbit. At 356,500 km from Earth, the Moon will be 14% closer than when it was at apogee at the end of October.

The full Moon after next will be on Monday, November 14, 2016, at 8:52 AM EST. Since this full Moon occurs just 2.5 hours after perigee, this will be what has come to be called a “SuperMoon.”

Space & Science... Nerd Alert!

The Next Full Moon is the Long Night Moon

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The next full Moon will be on Christmas morning, Friday, December 25, 2015. The Moon will be “opposite” the Sun as seen from the Earth (180 degrees from the Sun in Earth-based longitude) at 6:11 AM EST. The Moon will appear full for about three days around this time, from Wednesday evening through Saturday morning. A full Moon on Christmas day (or any other specific day of the year) is fairly rare. As reported in the press, the last Christmas Day full Moon was in 1977 and the next will be in 2034.

As the first full Moon of winter, this is known as the Wolf Moon. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, this name came from the packs of wolves that howled hungrily outside the Native American villages amid the cold and deep snows of winter. Another name is the Ice Moon. Some tribes called this the Snow Moon but most applied this to the second full Moon of winter.

Europeans called this the Old Moon, the Moon After Yule (an old Germanic name for the solstice celebration now associated with Christmas), or the Long Night Moon. Since the plane of the Moon’s orbit around the Earth is nearly parallel with the plane of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, near the Winter solstice (when the path of the Sun appears lowest in the sky for the year) the path of the full Moon (opposite the Sun) appears highest in the sky. For the Washington, DC, area, on Christmas Eve, Thursday, December 24, 2015, the full Moon will rise at 4:35 PM EST (about 16 minutes before sunset at 4:51 PM EST), reach its high point of 69.2 degrees above the horizon at 11:53 PM EST, and set at 7:11 AM EST on Christmas morning, Friday, December 25, 2015 (about 14 minutes before sunrise at 7:25 AM EST). From moonrise on Christmas Eve to moonset on Christmas Day the Moon will spend 14 hours and 36 minutes in the sky, the longest full Moon of the year.

In most lunar calendars the months change with the new Moon and the full Moons fall in the middle of the lunar month. This full Moon is the middle of Teveth in the Hebrew calendar, Dey in the lunisolar version of the Persian calendar, Befranbar in the lunisolar version of the Kurdish calendar, Jaddi in the lunisolar version of the Afghan calendar, and the eleventh month of the Chinese calendar. In the Islamic calendar the months start with the first viewing of the waxing crescent Moon, a few days after the New Moon. This full Moon is near the middle of the Islamic month of Rabi’ al-awwal.

As usual, the wearing of suitably celebratory celestial attire is encouraged in honor of the full Moon.

As for other celestial events between now and the full Moon after next:

Now that we are at the start of Winter, the daily periods of sunlight are near their shortest for the year. For the Washington, DC area (times in EST), on the day of the Winter Solstice, morning twilight began at 6:19 AM, the Sun rose at 7:23 AM, the Sun reached a maximum elevation of 27.7 degrees at 12:06 PM (the lowest for the year), sunset was at 4:49 PM, and evening twilight ended a few minutes ago, at 5:53 PM. The Winter Solstice has the shortest period of daylight for the year, about 9 hours and 26 minutes from sunrise to sunset, and the longest period of night for the year, about 14 hours and 34 minutes from sunset to sunrise. A few days later, on the day of the December full Moon, morning twilight will begin at 6:21 AM, the Sun will rise at 7:25 AM, the Sun will reach a maximum elevation of 27.7 degrees at 12:08 PM, sunset will be at 4:52 PM, and evening twilight will end at 5:55 PM. Ignoring daylight savings time, the latest sunrises of the year will occur on the 11 days from Thursday, December 31, 2015 through Sunday, January 10, 2016, when (rounded to the nearest minute) sunrise will be at 7:27 AM EST. By the time of the January full Moon, morning twilight will begin at 6:24 AM, the Sun will rise at 7:27 AM, the Sun will reach a maximum elevation of 29.0 degrees at 12:15 PM, sunset will be at 5:04 PM, and evening twilight will end at 6:06 PM.

In the mornings around the time of the late December full moon, as morning twilight begins, the planets Jupiter, Mars, Venus, and Saturn are all visible. Jupiter appears highest in the south-southwest, about 53 degrees above the horizon, Mars in the south-southeast (near the bright star Spica) about 40 degrees above the horizon, Venus in the southeast about 20 degrees above the horizon, and Saturn below and to the left of Venus, about 7 degrees above the horizon. The comet Catalina will also appear high in the morning sky, about 50 degrees above the southeast horizon. As we move into January the planets and stars will all appear to shift towards the west, with the exception of Venus, which will appear to shift closer to the horizon, and the comet Catalina, which will rise higher in the sky much faster as it makes it way out of the solar system. Between December 28th and January 8th the Moon will appear to move down this line of stars and planets, progressing past Regulus, Jupiter, Spica and Mars, and the cluster of Venus, Saturn, and Antares. In the mornings by the time of the late January full moon, Mercury will be visible just a few degrees above the east-southeast horizon, so that all the visible planets will be in the sky at the same time.

On the evenings around the time of the January full moon, as evening twilight ends, the three bright stars of the summer triangle are in the west. Deneb in the constellation Cygnus (the swan) will be the highest at about 53 degrees above the west-northwest horizon, with Vega, the brightest, in the constellation Lyra (the lyre) below Deneb at about 29 degrees above the horizon, and Altair in the constellation Aquila (the eagle) about 26 degrees above the western horizon. The bright stars of our local arm of the Milky Way Galaxy, including the constellation Orion, will be rising in the East. Mercury will be visible just a few degrees above the west-southwest horizon. Mercury will pass between the Earth and the Sun on January 14, 2015, and appear in the morning sky by the time of the late January full moon. In the evenings by the time of the late January full moon, as evening twilight ends, the bright stars of the local arm of the Milky Way Galaxy will be almost overhead, forming a band from southeast to northwest.

There will be two meteor showers during this period. The Ursids are usually active from December 17th to December 23rd, and are predicted to peak on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, December 22 to 23, 2015. The Ursids are usually a minor meteor shower, with about 5 or 10 visible meteors per hour, and this year the light of the nearly full Moon will make it hard to see all but the few brightest meteors. Unlike most meteor showers, if you live in the Northern Hemisphere you don’t have to wait until after midnight to see the Ursids. They appear to radiate out from the Little Dipper (the constellation Ursa Minor) which is high in the sky all night (this also means if you live in the Southern Hemisphere you can’t really see the Ursids at all). The Ursids are caused by grains of dust from the comet 8P/Tuttle that enter the Earth’s atmosphere at about 32 kilometers per second (71,600 miles per hour), so fast that the air can’t get out of the way fast enough and gets compressed and heated until it glows white hot.

The Quadrantids are predicted to be active from January 1st to January 10th. The Quadrantids have a narrow period of peak activity, predicted to be about 6 hours wide centered around 3 AM EST on Monday morning, January 4, 2015, which means this year the best viewing will be from northwestern Europe, Greenland, and northeastern North America. At the peak (if the sky is dark and the weather clear), we might be able to see anywhere from 25 to 100 meteors per hour. For northeastern North America the best time to look will probably be after midnight but before the waning crescent Moon rises (at 2:07 AM for the Washington, DC area), as moonlight can mask the fainter meteors. The Quadrantids appear to radiate out from a region of the sky between the constellations Draco and Bootes, near the tail of Ursa Major (the Big Dipper), where from 1795 until 1922 a grouping of stars was called the constellation Quadrans Muralis. The Quadrantids are caused by grains of dust, probably from the asteroid 2003 EH1 (some think it might be from a comet that Chinese astronomers reported seeing in 1490). These grains enter the Earth’s atmosphere at about 42.2 kilometers per second (94,400 miles per hour), so fast that the air can’t get out of the way fast enough and gets compressed and heated until it glows white hot.

It can be notoriously difficult to predict how bright a comet might be, especially one that is making its first (or only) pass by the Sun. Before humans walked the Earth, something disturbed a comet in the outermost reaches of the solar system (the Oort cloud) causing it to begin its fall towards the Sun. On October 31, 2013, the Catalina Sky Survey discovered this comet, and it is named Comet Catalina. On November 15, 2015, this comet made its closest approach to the Sun. On December 17, 2015 it crossed the celestial equator making it more visible from the northern hemisphere. As it moves away from the Sun, it receives and reflects less sunlight, making it fainter, but it will be at its closest to the Earth on January 17, 2015, so it may appear brighter when it is closer to us. It will probably be faint, something you might be able to see only with binoculars, possibly with the naked eye as as a fuzzy ball under ideal viewing conditions, but who knows? Pay attention to the news just in case. This will be comet Catalina’s one and only pass by the Sun, as it is moving fast enough that in several more million years it will escape the Sun’s gravity and become an interstellar wanderer.

Even thought they are not visible, I have been including in these Moon missives information about Near Earth Objects (mostly asteroids) that pass the Earth within about 15 lunar distances, because I find it interesting that we have discovered so many. You might notice that I always show more at the beginning of my list of celestial events than at the end. This is only because we are finding new ones all the time, often only a few weeks before they pass by the Earth. The name of the NEO generally includes the year it was discovered.

On Monday, December 21, 2015 at 9:06 PM EST (2015-Dec-22 02:06 UTC), Near Earth Object (2015 YQ1), between 6 and 14 meters (20 to 45 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at between 1.4 and 1.5 lunar distances (nominally 1.4), traveling at 12.38 kilometers per second (27,686 miles per hour).

On Monday, December 21, 2015 at 11:35 PM EST (2015-Dec-22 04:35 UTC), Near Earth Object (2015 YH1), between 24 and 54 meters (80 to 178 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at between 19.2 and 19.5 lunar distances (nominally 19.3), traveling at 17.13 kilometers per second (38,317 miles per hour).

On Monday night, December 21, 2015, at 11:48 PM, is the Winter Solstice. The Winter Solstice has the shortest period of daylight for the year, about 9 hours and 26 minutes from sunrise to sunset, and the longest period of night for the year, about 14 hours and 34 minutes from sunset to sunrise. Our 24-hour day is an average for the year, and while the Northern Hemisphere Winter Solstice is sometimes called “the shortest day of the year” it is actually one of the longest solar days of the year (as measured, for example, from solar noon to solar noon). A couple of years ago I wrote up a description of this, which also explains why the earliest sunsets occur before the winter solstice and the latest sunrises occur after the winter solstice (ignoring Daylight Savings Time). I will send this to you upon request (as this Moon missive is long enough as it is).

The Winter Solstice is the astronomical end of Fall and start of Winter. Historically we have used several ways to divide the year into seasons and define winter. The old Celtic calendar used in much of pre-Christian Europe considered winter to be the the quarter of the year with the shortest periods of daylight and the longest periods of night, so that Winter started around Halloween and ended around Groundhog Day (hence the origin of these traditions). However, since it takes time for our planet to cool off, the quarter year with the coldest average temperatures starts later than the quarter year with the shortest days. In our modern calendar we approximate this by having Winter start on the winter solstice and end on the spring equinox. In addition, Meteorologists ofter refers to “Meteorological Winter” as the months of December, January, and February (this makes it easier to combine monthly averages into seasonal averages). For the Washington, DC area at least, the quarter year with the coldest average temperatures actually starts this first week of December and ends the first week of March, so none of these calendars exactly match the historical record for the coldest quarter of the year for our area.

On Tuesday, December 22, 2015 at 6:29 AM EST (2015-Dec-22 11:29 UTC), Near Earth Object (2015 YE1), between 9 and 20 meters (29 to 65 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at 5.5 lunar distances, traveling at 10.29 kilometers per second (23,022 miles per hour).

On Tuesday, December 22, 2015 at 7:35 AM EST (2015-Dec-22 12:35 UTC), Near Earth Object (2015 YC1), between 17 and 38 meters (55 to 123 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at 3.9 lunar distances, traveling at 8.06 kilometers per second (18,034 miles per hour).

On Tuesday, December 22, 2015 at 9:15 AM EST (2015-Dec-22 14:15 UTC with 4 minutes uncertainty), Near Earth Object (2015 YK), between 17 and 38 meters (55 to 123 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at between 8.8 and 8.9 lunar distances (nominally 8.9), traveling at 3.33 kilometers per second (7,440 miles per hour).

Tuesday night, December 22, into Wednesday morning, December 23, 2015, is the predicted peak of the Ursid meteor shower. The Ursids are usually a minor meteor shower, with about 5 or 10 visible meteors per hour, and the light of the nearly full Moon will make it hard to see all but the brightest meteors, so this is not a good year to see the Ursids.

Throughout late December and January, the planet Mars and the bright star Spica will appear near each other in the morning sky. They will be at their closest on Wednesday morning, December 23, 2015.

On Wednesday, December 23, 2015 at 7:37 AM EST (2015-Dec-23 12:37 UTC), Near Earth Object (2015 XN261), between 16 and 36 meters (53 to 117 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at 2.6 lunar distances, traveling at 4.95 kilometers per second (11,072 miles per hour).

On Wednesday, December 23, 2015 at 1:44 PM EST (2015-Dec-23 18:44 UTC), Near Earth Object (1995 YR1), between 242 and 542 meters (795 to 1778 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at 16.9 lunar distances, traveling at 30.45 kilometers per second (68,121 miles per hour).

On Wednesday, December 23, 2015 at about 3:39 PM EST (2015-Dec-23 20:39 UTC with 52 minutes uncertainty), Near Earth Object (2015 XZ378), between 9 and 20 meters (29 to 65 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at between 18.2 and 18.5 lunar distances (nominally 18.3), traveling at 1.83 kilometers per second (4,105 miles per hour).

On Wednesday, December 23, 2015 at 7:53 PM EST (2015-Dec-24 00:53 UTC), Near Earth Object (2015 YJ1), between 9 and 20 meters (29 to 65 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at between 7.3 and 7.4 lunar distances (nominally 7.4), traveling at 6.08 kilometers per second (13,611 miles per hour).

On Wednesday, December 23, 2015 at 8:53 PM EST (2015-Dec-24 01:53 UTC), Near Earth Object (2015 XX378), between 31 and 68 meters (100 to 224 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at between 6.9 and 7.0 lunar distances (nominally 6.9), traveling at 15.32 kilometers per second (34,264 miles per hour).

On Wednesday, December 23, 2015 at 9:22 PM EST (2015-Dec-24 02:22 UTC with 3 minutes uncertainty), Near Earth Object (2015 YS), between 18 and 41 meters (60 to 135 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at between 14.8 and 15.2 lunar distances (nominally 15.0), traveling at 7.35 kilometers per second (16,437 miles per hour).

On Wednesday evening, December 23, into Thursday morning, December 24, 2015, the bright star Aldebaran will appear about 6 degrees to the upper right of the waxing gibbous Moon. They will appear to shift apart as the night progresses.

Sometime on Wednesday or Thursday, December 23 or 24, 2015 (2015-Dec-24 05:20 UTC with 23 hours, 21 minutes uncertainty), Near Earth Object (2011 YD29), between 15 and 33 meters (48 to 107 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at between 7.0 and 14.0 lunar distances (nominally 9.7), traveling at 7.04 kilometers per second (15,740 miles per hour).

As mentioned above, the next full Moon is on Christmas morning, Friday, December 25, 2015, at 6:11 AM EST.

Predawn on Monday morning, December 28, 2015, in a long arc across the southwest, will be (from right/west to left/southeast) the bright star Procyon, the waning gibbous Moon, the bright star Regulus, the planet Jupiter, the planet Mars near the bright star Spica, the planet Venus, the planet Saturn, and the bright star Antares.

Monday evening, December 28, 2015, is when the planet Mercury is at its greatest angular separation from the Sun as seen from Earth (called eastern elongation). As noted below, two days later is when Mercury appears highest in the west-southwest at the time the Sun is 12 degrees below the horizon (the angle used to estimate when evening twilight ends).

On Monday, December 28, 2015 at 8:13 PM EST (2015-Dec-29 01:13 UTC with 6 minutes uncertainty), Near Earth Object (2015 XV351), between 17 and 38 meters (55 to 123 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at between 5.1 and 5.5 lunar distances (nominally 5.3), traveling at 6.16 kilometers per second (13,778 miles per hour).

Monday night, December 28, into Tuesday morning, December 29, 2015, the waning gibbous Moon will appear near the bright start Regulus. The Moon and Regulus will still appear near each other when they rise on Tuesday evening.

On Wednesday, December 30, 2015 at 2:01 PM EST (2015-Dec-30 19:01 UTC), Near Earth Object (2015 XC352), between 18 and 41 meters (60 to 135 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at 5.2 lunar distances, traveling at 4.60 kilometers per second (10,282 miles per hour).

Wednesday evening, December 30, 2015, Mercury will be at its highest in the sky at the time evening twilight ends (for the Washington, DC area, about 4 degrees above the horizon half-way between southwest and west-southwest at 5:58 PM EST).

On Wednesday, December 30, 2015 at 11:32 PM EST (2015-Dec-31 04:32 UTC with 4 minutes uncertainty), Near Earth Object (2015 YT1), between 11 and 24 meters (35 to 78 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at between 13.2 and 13.8 lunar distances (nominally 13.5), traveling at 6.06 kilometers per second (13,560 miles per hour).

Wednesday evening, December 30, into Thursday morning, December 31, 2015, the bright planet Jupiter will appear near the waning gibbous Moon. For the Washington, DC area, the Moon will rise Wednesday at 10:25 PM, Jupiter will rise at 10:52 PM, and they will appear to shift closer to each other throughout the night, with morning twilight beginning Thursday at 6:23 AM EST. They will still appear about 8 degrees apart on Thursday evening, with Jupiter rising at 10:48 PM and the Moon rising at 11:21 PM.

Sometime on Wednesday or Thursday, December 30 or 31, 2015 (2015-Dec-31 12:13 UTC with 19 hours, 19 minutes uncertainty), Near Earth Object (2011 YE40), between 24 and 54 meters (80 to 178 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at between 8.4 and 36.6 lunar distances (nominally 15.8), traveling at 12.73 kilometers per second (28,469 miles per hour).

For the Washington, DC area, the latest sunrises of the year (ignoring daylight savings time) will be at 7:27 AM EST from Thursday, December 31, 2015, through Sunday, January 10, 2016. If you find it hard to wake up in the mornings, this might be why. Due to daylight savings time, in 2016 the sunrises from October 25th to November 5th will be later than 7:27 AM EDT, with latest sunrise of the year on November 5, 2016, at 7:40 AM EDT.

New Year’s morning, January 1, 2016, looks like it would be a good time to use a pair of binoculars or a telescope to look for the comet Catalina, as it will be very close the the bright star Arcturus, so you can use this star as a guide. For the Washington, DC area, Catalina and Arcturus will rise together at 12:35 AM EST, but you will probably want to wait until they are higher in the sky, but well before morning twilight begins at 6:23 AM EST.

Saturday morning, January 2, 2016, the waning Moon will appear half-full as it reaches its last quarter at 12:30 AM EST.

On Saturday evening, January 2, 2016, at 7:59 PM EST, the Earth will be at perihelion, the closest we get to the Sun in our orbit. Between perihelion and 6 months later at aphelion there is about a 6.7% difference in the intensity of the sunlight reaching the Earth, one of the reasons the seasons in the Southern hemisphere are more extreme than in the Northern Hemisphere. Perihelion is also when the Earth is moving the fastest in its orbit around the Sun, so if you run east at local midnight, you will be moving as fast as you can (at least in Sun-centered coordinates) for your location. To view Dr. C. B. Boff’s proclamation on this topic (dated now, as it was prepared for the new millennium), visit <http://cbboff.org/Proclamations/>.

On Sunday morning, January 3, 2016, the waning crescent Moon, the planet Mars, and the bright star Spica will appear to form a triangle in the east-southeast. For the Washington, DC area, the Moon will rise at about 1:11 AM, Spica at 1:19 AM, and Mars at 1:41 AM EST, and will remain close to each other until lost from sight as morning twilight begins. The Moon and Mars will still be about 7 degrees apart when they rise again on Monday morning at 2:07 AM.

Monday morning, January 4, 2016, is the peak of the Quadrantid meteor shower. For the Washington, DC area, the best time to look will probably be between 1 and 2 AM EST, close to the peak at 3 AM but before moonrise at 2:07 AM.

On Tuesday, January 5, 2016 at 8:09 PM EST (2016-Jan-06 01:09 UTC), Near Earth Object 85990 (1999 JV6), between 254 and 568 meters (833 to 1862 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at 12.6 lunar distances, traveling at 9.62 kilometers per second (21,524 miles per hour).

Sometime on Tuesday or Wednesday, January 5 or 6, 2016 (2016-Jan-06 09:17 UTC with 16 hours 12 minutes uncertainty), Near Earth Object (2001 BB16), between 61 and 136 meters (200 to 447 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at between 5.1 and 27.9 lunar distances (nominally 17.7), traveling at 5.08 kilometers per second (11,365 miles per hour).

Predawn on Wednesday morning, January 6, 2016, the waning crescent Moon will appear in the southeast near the planets Venus, Saturn, and the bright star Antares. For the Washington, DC area, on Wednesday morning, the Moon will rise at 4 AM EST, Venus will rise at 4:40 AM, Saturn will rise at 4:55 AM, and Antares will rise at 5:08 AM EST.

Predawn on Thursday morning, January 7, 2016, the show repeats, only closer. The waning crescent Moon and the planets Venus and Saturn will appear in the southeast, with the bright star Antares nearby to the right. Venus will rise in the east-southeast at 4:42 AM, Saturn at 4:52 AM, the Moon at 4:56 AM EST, and Antares at 5:04 AM EST. Morning twilight will begin at 6:24 AM, when the Moon, planets, and star will appear about 15 degrees above the southeast horizon.

Saturday morning, January 9, 2016, the planets Venus and Saturn will appear very near each other, with the bright star Antares to the lower right. For the Washington, DC area, Saturn followed by Venus will rise within a minute of each other in the east-southeast beginning at 4:45 AM. By the time morning twilight begins at 6:24 AM EST Venus and Saturn will be 15 degrees above the southeast horizon. Venus and Saturn will appear near each other throughout the month, but Saturday the 9th is when they are at their closest.

We don’t really know when the comet Catalina will be at its brightest. It is moving away from the Sun so it is getting less sunlight, but will be moving closer to the Earth, with the closest approach to the Earth on Sunday, January 17, 2016. How bright it is will depend upon how much dust and gas it is giving off. Since it might be faint, I suggest looking in the mornings with binoculars or a telescope the week before closest approach to the Earth. For the Washington, DC area, in the mornings at around 6 AM EST beginning Saturday morning, January 9, 2016, the Moon will have set and the comet will be almost directly overhead. The comet moves against the backdrop of stars each morning, so I recommend looking up its location on the Web to help you find it.

Saturday, January 9, 2016, at 8:30 PM EST, will be the new Moon, when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from the Earth.

Thursday morning, January 14, 2016, at 9:02 AM EST, is when Mercury will pass between the Earth and the Sun. Mercury will emerge from the glow of the Sun in the morning sky later in January.

Sometime around Thursday or Friday, January 14 or 15, 2016 (2016-Jan-15 05:42 UTC with 1 day, 1 hour, 8 minutes uncertainty), Near Earth Object (2015 YC2), between 61 and 136 meters (200 to 447 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at between 4.6 and 5.2 lunar distances (nominally 4.9), traveling at 15.47 kilometers per second (34,596 miles per hour).

On Saturday evening, January 16, 2016, the Moon will appear half-full as it reaches its first quarter at 6:26 PM EST.

On Tuesday evening, January 19, 2016, the bright star Aldebaran will disappear behind the waxing gibbous Moon. For the Washington, DC area, Aldebaran will be about 3 degrees to the lower left of the Moon when evening twilight ends at 6:18 PM EST. As the evening progresses, the Moon will appear to shift closer to Aldebaran until Aldebaran disappears behind the left, dark limb of the Moon at 9:27 PM EST. Aldebaran will reappear near the bright, lower limb of the Moon at 10:35 PM EST, and Aldebaran will be about 6 degrees to the lower right of the Moon when Aldebaran sets Wednesday morning at about 3:47 AM EST, with the Moon setting at 4 AM EST.

For the Washington, DC area at least, Thursday morning, January 21, 2016, is the first morning that Mercury is above the east-southeast horizon when morning twilight begins.

The full Moon after next will be on Saturday evening, January 23, 2016, at 8:46 PM EST.

— Credit: J. Fessler —

Uncategorized

The Next Full Moon is the Corn Moon of the Hungry Ghost Moon

harvestmoon2

From my amazing colleague J.Fessler:

The next full Moon will be on Saturday afternoon, August 29, 2015. The Moon will be “opposite” the Sun as seen from the Earth (180 degrees from the Sun in Earth-based longitude) at 2:35 pm EDT. The Moon will appear full for about 3 days centered on this time, from Friday morning through Monday morning.

The Maine Farmer’s Almanac first published Indian names for the full Moons in the 1930’s. According to this almanac, the Native American tribes of what is now the northern and eastern United States named the last full Moon of the summer season the Corn Moon, as this was the time for gathering the staple crops of corn, pumpkins, squash, beans, and wild rice. Europeans called this the Fruit Moon for the large number of fruits that ripen at the end of Summer, or the Barley Moon for the harvesting and threshing of the barley.

In most lunar calendars the months change with the new Moon and the full Moons fall in the middle of the lunar month. This full Moon is the middle of Elul in the Hebrew calendar, Shahrivar in the Persian calendar, Xermanan in the Kurdish calendar, Sunbula in the Afghan calendar, and the seventh (or Ghost) month of the Chinese calendar. In the Islamic calendar the months start with the first viewing of the waxing crescent Moon, a few days after the New Moon. This full Moon is near the middle of the Islamic month of Dhu al-Qa’dah, one of the four sacred months in Islam during which warfare is prohibited (hence the name, which translates as “Master of Truce”).

This full Moon corresponds to the Chinese Hungry Ghost Festival. The seventh month of the Chinese calendar is the Ghost Month and the fifteenth day of this month is called Ghost Day, on which ghosts and spirits, including those of the deceased ancestors, come out to visit the living (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost_Festival for more information).

As usual, the wearing of suitably celebratory celestial attire is encouraged in honor of the full Moon. And you might want to gather your fruits, vegetable and other staples; honor your ancestors; and keep the peace.

As for other celestial events between now and the full Moon after next:

As we approach the end of summer, the days are getting noticeably shorter. On the day of the full Moon at the end of August, for the Washington, DC area (times in EDT), morning twilight will begin at 5:34 am, the Sun will rise at 6:34 am, the Sun will reach a maximum elevation of 60.4 degrees at 1:09 pm, sunset will be at 7:43 pm, and evening twilight will end at 8:43 pm. By the time of the full Moon at the end of September, morning twilight will begin at 6:03 am, the Sun will rise at 7:00 am, the Sun will reach a maximum elevation of 49.4 degrees at 12:59 pm, sunset will be at 6:57 pm, and evening twilight will end at 7:55 pm.

For the Washington, DC area, as evening twilight ends on the night of the August full Moon, the bright planet Saturn will appear in the southwest about 24 degrees above the horizon. Saturn was at its brightest in May when it was opposite the Sun, and will appear to shift farther towards the western horizon with each twilight. Mercury is in the western sky, but will set before evening twilight ends. The best opportunity to view Mercury low on the western horizon will be in early September. The “Summer Triangle” formed by the bright stars Altair, Deneb, and Vega (the brightest stars in the three constellations of Aquila, Cygnus, and Lyra, respectively) will appear nearly overhead.

As morning twilight begins around the time of the late August full Moon, the planets Mars and Venus will appear near the horizon in the east-northeast. The constellation Orion and the bright stars of the local arm of our galaxy will appear spread across the sky from Adara in the southeast to Vega in the northwest. Venus, Mars, and these bright stars will appear to shift to the west with each dawn. Jupiter will become visible in the morning sky by mid-September, having passed on the far side of the Sun as seen from the Earth a few days before the August full Moon.

On Thursday, August 27, 2015, at 10:56 pm EDT (August 28 at 02:56 UTC), Near Earth Object (2015 QT3), between 44 and 98 meters (140 to 320 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at about 4.2 lunar distances, traveling at 26.29 kilometers per second (58,810 miles per hour).

As mentioned above, the next full Moon will be on Saturday afternoon, August 29, 2015.

On Saturday, August 29, 2015, at 12:04 pm EDT (16:04 UTC), Near Earth Object (2015 PT227), between 42 and 95 meters (140 to 310 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at about 9.7 lunar distances, traveling at 9.35 kilometers per second (20,920 miles per hour).

If you have a backyard telescope, the night of the full Moon might be a good time to look for the planet Neptune. Neptune is just two days away from being opposite the Sun as seen from the Earth, when it will be at its closest and brightest for the year (effectively a full Neptune). For the Washington, DC area, as evening twilight ends (at 6:43 pm EDT), Neptune will appear about 4 lunar diameters to the right and about one lunar diameter below the Moon. When pointing with a telescope, remember that some telescopes invert or mirror the image, so “to the right and a little below” may appear a different direction as seen through the telescope.

On Monday, August 31, 2015, at 10:12 pm EDT, Neptune will be opposite the Sun as seen from the Earth (called Opposition).

On Tuesday, September 1, 2015, at 8:15 am EDT (12:15 UTC), Near Earth Object 281375 (2008 JV19), between 190 and 430 meters (620 to 1,400 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at about 17.4 lunar distances, traveling at 7.24 kilometers per second (16,200 miles per hour).

Friday morning, September 4, 2015, is when the planet Mercury will be at its greatest angular separation from the Sun as seen from the Earth for this apparition, so the evenings before and after will be the best times to look for Mercury low on the western horizon. Note that Mercury will have set by the time evening twilight ends, so this will not be a particularly good opportunity for viewing Mercury.

Friday evening, September 4, 2015, into Saturday morning, September 5, 2015, for the Washington, DC area (times in EDT) the half full Moon will block or occult the bright star Aldebaran. The Moon and Aldebaran will rise together in the east-northeast at 11:50 pm, Aldebaran will disappear behind the bright limb of the Moon a few minutes later, at around 11:53 pm, Aldebaran will reappear from behind the dark limb of the Moon about 40 minutes later, around 12:38 am on Saturday morning, and they will still appear close when morning twilight begins at 5:41 am. This occultation is only visible from central Asia across Europe to the east coast of North America, and the timing will vary, the page at URL http://www.lunar-occultations.com/iota/bstar/0905zc692.htm provides the timing for major cities (time in UTC, so don’t forget to adjust for your local timezone). For the rest of the Earth, you should be able to see Aldebaran quite near the Moon, but it will not be hidden by the Moon.

On Saturday morning, September 5, 2015, the waning Moon will appear half-full as it reaches its last quarter at 5:54 am EDT.

On Saturday, September 5, 2015, at 17:29 EDT (21:29 UTC), Near Earth Object (2015 PK57), between 32 and 71 meters (100 to 230 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at about 17.6 lunar distances, traveling at 11.29 kilometers per second (25,260 miles per hour).

On Thursday morning, September 10, 2015, the thin waning crescent Moon will appear between the planets Venus and Mars. For the Washington, DC area, Venus and the Moon will rise in the east-northeast at 4:16 am, Mars will rise at 4:30 am, and morning twilight will begin at 5:46 am, all in EDT.

Sunday morning, September 13, 2015, will be the new Moon, when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun and for the most part will not be visible from the Earth. If you happen to be in southern Africa, parts of Antarctica, or on parts of the southern ocean, you would be able to see the Moon blocking part of the Sun in a partial solar eclipse.

On Monday, September 14, 2015, at 6:16 pm EDT (22:16 UTC), Near Earth Object (2014 KS76), between 13 and 30 meters (43 to 98 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at about 8.7 lunar distances, traveling at 26.5 kilometers per second (17,000 miles per hour).

On Friday evening, September 18, 2015, the planet Saturn will appear about 3 degrees to the left of the waxing crescent Moon. For the Washington, DC area, when evening twilight ends at 8:10 pm, they will appear about 20 degrees above the southwest horizon. Saturn will set in the west-southwest at 10:12 pm and the Moon will set at 10:18 pm, all in EDT.

On Monday morning, September 21, 2015, the Moon will appear half-full as it reaches its first quarter at 4:59 am EDT.

Wednesday morning, September 23, 2015, at 4:20 am EDT, is the Autumnal Equinox, the astronomical end of Summer and start of Fall.

In the mornings of Thursday, September 24, and Friday, September 25, 2015, the planet Mars and the bright star Regulus will appear within about a degree of each other on the east-northeastern horizon. For the Washington, DC area, they will rise between 4:19 and 4:24 am, with morning twilight beginning around 6 am, all in EDT. The bright planet Venus will appear above and the right of the pair and Jupiter will appear about the same distance below and to the left.

As mentioned above, the full Moon after next will be on Sunday evening, September 27, 2015. This will be the Harvest Moon, it will be a total eclipse of the Moon, and because the full Moon and eclipse will be about an hour after when the Moon will be at its closest to the Earth in its orbit (called Perigee), this will be the biggest full Moon of the year (sometimes called a “Supermoon”). I will write more about this in my next Moon missive.

Space & Science... Nerd Alert!

The Next Full Moon is the Buck Moon or the Thunder Moon

From my amazing colleague J.Fessler:

The next full Moon will be on Wednesday evening, July 1, 2015. The Moon will be “opposite” the Sun as seen from the Earth (180 degrees from the Sun in Earth-based longitude) at 10:20 pm EDT. The Moon will appear full for about 3 days centered on this time, from Tuesday evening through Friday morning.

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, as the first full Moon of Summer the Algonquin tribes in what is now the Eastern USA called this full Moon the Buck Moon, as early Summer is normally when the new antlers of buck deer push out of their foreheads in coatings of velvety fur. They also called this the Thunder Moon because of early Summer’s frequent thunderstorms.

Europeans often call the full Moon in June the Rose Moon. Some believe the name comes from the color of the full Moon when it is lowest in the sky for the year. The orbit of the Moon around the Earth is almost in the same plane as the orbit of the Earth around the Sun (only about 5 degrees off), so near the summer solstice when the Sun appears highest in the sky, the full Moon opposite the Sun is lowest in the sky. Particularly for the higher northern latitudes, a full Moon low in the sky will shine through more atmosphere than at other times of the year, which can sometimes give it a reddish or rose color (for much the same reason that the rising and setting Sun appears red). For the Washington, DC area, on July 1, 2015, the full Moon will reach its highest in the sky at 12:21 am EDT, when it will be in only 31.9 degrees above the horizon, making this the lowest full Moon of the year (by 0.2 degrees compared to the June full Moon).

In most lunar calendars the months change with the new Moon and the full Moons fall in the middle of the lunar month. This full Moon is the middle of Tammuz in the Hebrew calendar, Tir in the Persian calendar, Poshper in the Kurdish calendar, Saratan in the Afghan calendar, and the fifth month of the Chinese calendar.

In the Islamic calendar the months start with the first viewing of the waxing crescent Moon, a few days after the New Moon. This full Moon is near the middle of the holy month of Ramadan, the month in which the Quran was revealed. Fasting from dawn to dusk for the month of Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.

As usual, the wearing of suitably celebratory celestial attire is encouraged in honor of the full moon.

As to other celestial events between now and the full Moon after next:

Now that we are past the summer solstice and moving through the summer months, the days will be getting gradually shorter.

For the Washington, DC area, rounded to the nearest minute, the latest sunsets of the year are at 8:37 pm EDT from Saturday, June 20, 2015 through Sunday, July 5, 2015. The length of the solar day varies with the seasons (our 24 hour clock is based on the average length of a day), so the days with the earliest sunrises occur before the Summer solstice and the days with the latest sunsets occur on and after the solstice.

On the day of the full Moon, for the Washington, DC area (times in EDT), morning twilight will begin at 4:34 am and the Sun will rise at 5:46 am.  The Sun will reach a maximum elevation of 74.2 degrees at 1:12 pm, sunset will be at 8:37 pm, and evening twilight will end at 9:44 pm.  By the time of the full Moon at the end of July, morning twilight will begin at 5:02 am, the Sun will rise at 6:08 am, the Sun will reach a maximum elevation of 69.3 degrees at 1:14 pm, sunset will be at 8:20 pm, and evening twilight will end at 9:27 pm.

There will be several meteor showers active between now and the full Moon after next, but none are expected to produce significant shows, particularly for those of us living in urban areas.  If you happen to be out in an area with dark skies and no Moon on a clear night after midnight, you just might see a meteor or two.

The Southern Delta Aquariids should be active from Tuesday, July 21, to Sunday, August 23, peaking the night of Tuesday, July 28 into the morning of Wednesday, July 29, 2015.  This shower is best seen from the southern hemisphere, usually produces faint meteors without persistent trails, rarely produces fireballs, and will peak this year when the light of the nearly full Moon will interfere with seeing any but the brightest meteors, so for those of us in the northern hemisphere near the bright lights of a city this will be a very difficult shower to see.  These meteors are probably caused by dust from the the short period comet 96P/Machholz or from the breakup of what are now the Marsden and Kracht Sungrazing comets that enter our atmosphere at 41 kilometers per second (92,000 miles per hour).

The Alpha Capricornids should be active from Saturday, July 11, to Monday, August 10, 2015.  This shower typically only produces about 10 meteors per hour, but I mention it because it has a fairly broad peak centered around Wednesday, July 29, 2015, and occasionally produces bright fireballs, which may be visible despite the nearly full Moon.  These meteors are thought to be caused by dust from the comet 169P/NEAT that enter our atmosphere at a relatively “slow” 24 kilometers per second (54,000 miles per hour).

The Perseids are usually one of the best meteor showers of the year.  The Perseids should be active from Monday, July 13, to Wednesday, August 26, peaking the night of Wednesday, August 12 into the morning of Thursday, August 13, 2015.  Since this peak is after the full Moon after next, I plan to say more about the Perseids in my next Moon Missive.

For the Washington, DC area as evening twilight ends on the night of the early July full Moon, the bright planet Venus as the evening star and the bright planet Jupiter will appear near each other about 12 degrees above the western horizon. Venus, Jupiter, and the bright star Regulus will appear near each other throughout this period, putting on a good show in the western sky. The bright planet Saturn will appear in the south about 33 degrees above the horizon. Venus as Jupiter will appear to move apart each evening, as Venus moves to pass between the Earth and the Sun, and Jupiter moves to pass on the far side of the Sun.  Venus will grow in brightness as the distance between the Earth and Venus decreases, reaching its greatest brilliancy (a good approximation for the harder to compute greatest brightness) for this apparition on Sunday, July 12, 2015. Saturn was at its brightest in May when it was opposite the Sun and closest to Earth, and will appear to shift to the west each evening.

Around the time of the early July full Moon, as morning twilight begins, the planet Mercury will appear very close to the east-northeast horizon, and will be lost in the glow of dawn over the next week or so (Mercury will pass on the far side of the Sun as seen from Earth in late July). Mars passed behind the Sun in mid-June and by late July will begin to rise just around the time morning twilight begins.

On Saturday evening, June 27, 2015, the bright reddish star Antares, the bright planet Saturn, the waxing gibbous Moon, and the bright star Spica will form a rough arc in the southern sky from left to right, respectively.

On Sunday evening, June 28, 2015, the bright planet Saturn will appear about 2 degrees to the lower right of the waxing gibbous Moon. For the Washington, DC area, the Moon and Saturn will appear at their closest as twilight ends, and will appear to drift apart slightly until they set shortly after 3:30 am on Monday morning.

On Monday night, June 29, 2015, the waxing gibbous Moon, the bright planet Saturn, and the bright reddish star Antares will appear to form a triangle in the southern sky.

The best opportunity to see Mercury this apparition will be on Tuesday morning, June 30, 2015, when Mercury will be slightly more than 1 degree above the east-northeast horizon at the time morning twilight begins. For the Washington, DC area, Mercury will rise at 4:27 am EDT and morning twilight will begin at 4:34 am. Mercury will have reached its greatest angular separation from the Sun for this apparition in the middle of the day on Wednesday, June 24, 2015 (22.5 degrees).

On Tuesday evening, June 30, 2015, the two bright planets Venus and Jupiter will appear about 1/3 of a degree apart in the western sky, with the bright star Regulus to the upper left. For the Washington, DC area, as evening twilight ends (at 9:50 pm EDT), the brighter planet Venus will appear slight below Jupiter, both 13 degrees above the horizon, slightly north of west. Venus will set at 11:01 pm and Jupiter at 11:03 pm. Over the next few weeks Venus, Jupiter, and Regulus will all appear to shift lower in the western sky, with Venus appearing to shift away from Jupiter and towards Regulus.

As mentioned above, the next full Moon will be on Wednesday evening, July 1, 2015.

Monday, July 6, 2015, at 8:59 am EDT, is Aphelion, when the Earth is at its farthest from the Sun for the year. Because of this increased distance, sunlight reaching the Earth at Aphelion is about 6.5% less intense than sunlight at perihelion (which occurs in early January). For the Northern hemisphere, sunlight in Summer is less intense while sunlight in Winter is more intense, while the opposite is true for the Southern hemisphere. This is one of the reasons the seasons in the Southern hemisphere are more extreme.

On Tuesday, July 7, 2015, at about 2:37 pm EDT (18:37 UTC with 4 minutes uncertainty), Near Earth Object (2015 HM10), between 51 and 110 meters (167 to 361 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at about 1.1 lunar distances, traveling at 8.46 kilometers per second (18,900 miles per hour).

On Wednesday afternoon, July 8, 2015, the waning Moon will appear half-full as it reaches its last quarter at 4:24 pm EDT.

On Sunday, morning, July 12, 2015, the thin crescent waning Moon will appear near the bright star Aldebaran.  For the Washington, DC area, the Moon will rise in the east-northeast at about 3:05 am, and Aldebaran will rise to the lower left of the Moon at 3:27 am.  The Moon will be about 17 degrees above the eastern horizon when morning twilight begins at 4:43 am, all in EDT.  The Moon and Aldebaran will appear at their closest in the mid-afternoon, when we can’t see them from the DC area.

Sunday, July 12, 2015, is when Venus will reach its greatest brilliancy (a good approximation for the harder to compute greatest brightness) for this apparition.  If you look at Venus with binoculars or a telescope, you should be able to see that it appears as a bright crescent.

On Tuesday, July 14, 2015 (Bastille Day), after a 9.5 year journey, the New Horizons spacecraft will fly by the dwarf planet Pluto.  The flyby will occur in the morning, but it will take radio waves 4 hours and 25 minutes to reach the Earth from Pluto, so we should get confirmation of a successful flyby around noon-time in EDT.  The spacecraft is designed to collect as much data as it can when it is close to Pluto, then play it back over the next 16 months, so stay tuned for an on-going string of discoveries! See http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/newhorizons/main/ for more information and the latest results.

Wednesday evening, July 15, 2015, will be the new Moon, when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun and is not visible from the Earth.

The Islamic holiday Eid al-Fitr, also known as the Feast of Breaking the Fast, occurs a one to three days after the new Moon. In the Islamic calendar the months change with the sighting of the crescent Moon (or for the end of Ramadan, after 30 days of fasting if no visual sighting is possible due to weather conditions). This is generally considered the most important Islamic holiday of the year.

On Saturday, July 18, 2015, look for the thin, waxing crescent Moon below and a little to the left of the bright planet Venus, with the bright planet Jupiter to the right and the bright star Regulus above.  For the Washington, DC area, evening twilight will end at 9:40 pm, the Moon will set around 9:56 pm, Venus around 10 pm, Jupiter around 10:02 pm, and Regulus around 10:13 pm, all in EDT.

On Sunday morning, July 19, 2015, at 10:37 am EDT (14:37 UTC), Near Earth Object 436724 (2011 UW158), between 330 and 750 meters (1,100 to 2,500 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at about 6.4 lunar distances, traveling at 6.04 kilometers per second (13,500 miles per hour).

Sometime in the evening of Sunday, July 19 or in the morning of Monday, July 20, 2015 (July 20, 2015 at 04:57 UTC with almost 11 hours uncertainty), Near Earth Object (2013 BQ18), between 23 and 52 meters (75 to 171 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at somewhere between 3.4 and 22.2 lunar distances (most likely about 8 lunar distances), traveling at 14.09 kilometers per second (31,520 miles per hour).

On Wednesday evening, July 22, 2015, bright star Spica will appear about 7 degrees to the left of the waxing crescent Moon.  By the next evening, Thursday, July 23, 2015, Spica will appear about 7 degrees to the lower right of the Moon.

Thursday afternoon, July 23, 2015, will be when Mercury passes beyond the Sun as seen from the Earth (called Superior Conjunction).

Just after midnight on Friday morning, July 24, 2015 the Moon will appear half-full as it reaches its first quarter at 12:04 am EDT.

Saturday night, July 25, 2015, the bright planet Saturn will appear to the left of the waxing gibbous Moon, appearing to gradually drift closer until they set on Sunday morning (at 1:42 am EDT for the Washington, DC area).

Tuesday morning is the peak of the Delta Aquarid meteor shower (as mentioned above).

For the Washington, DC area, Thursday morning, July 30, 2015, is the first morning that the planet Mars is visible above the horizon just as morning twilight begins (at 5 am EDT). Over the coming weeks Mars will be more visible near the east-northeastern horizon.

The full Moon after next will be on Friday morning, July 31, 2015.

Uncategorized

2 Years Later

No, it hasn’t been 2 years since my last post… but, it sure does feel like it. I seriously think about blogging all the time, yet time is one thing I don’t have. You know, between my job, my 3+ hour a day commute, my (almost) 1 year old, my amazing husband and friends; I simply don’t have much time left.

To get to the point, it’s been 2 years since I lost my beloved father in-law. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him.

This time last year, I was 9 months, 3 weeks, and 5 days pregnant, with a due date of May 31… coincidentally my due date was the 1 year anniversary of his passing. We were all anxious waiting for Mason’s arrival, but also anxious to be celebrating the 1 year. As a family we went to lunch and ‘cheered’ to my late father in-law, and 3 days later Mason was born.

Now, 1 year later, we are about to celebrate the birth of Mason and his first year of life. I often talk to Mason about his Grandpa and even take Mason to visit.

Shortly after Mason started walking (at 10 months old), I took Mason to see Grandpa, so he could see his Grandson walk for himself.

The moment was bittersweet, and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

There have been many, many, many tears since my father in-laws passing 2 years ago; but I know he’s been with us every step of the way.

Mason visits gpa 1

Mason visits gpa 2

 

Space & Science... Nerd Alert!

The Next Full Moon is the Beaver Moon

beaver moon

The next Full Moon will be in one week, on Thursday afternoon, November 6, 2014, appearing “opposite” the Sun (in Earth-based longitude) at 5:23 pm EST. The Moon will appear full for about three days around this time, from Wednesday evening through Saturday morning.

As the mid-Fall Moon or second full Moon after the Autumnal Equinox, this is the Beaver Moon. Mid-Fall is time to set beaver traps before the swamps freeze to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. Another interpretation suggests that the name Beaver Full Moon came from how active the beavers are in this season as they prepare for winter. Other names are the Frost or Frosty Moon and the Snow Moon, although these names are also used for the late Fall Moon usually in December.

This is also Kartik Poornima. According to Wikipedia (the font of all knowledge, much of it accurate): “Kartika Poornima (Kartika purnima) is a Hindu, Jain and Sikh holy festival, celebrated on the Purnima (full moon) day or the fifteenth lunar day of Kartika (November–December). It is also known as Tripuri Poornima and Tripurari Poornima. It is sometimes called Deva-Diwali or Deva-Deepawali – the festival of lights of the gods.”

As usual, the wearing of suitably celebratory celestial attire is encouraged in honor of the full Moon.

As to other celestial events between now and the full Moon after next:

Now that we are in the middle of Fall, the daily periods of sunlight continue to get shorter. For the Washington, DC area, on the day of the November full Moon, morning (nautical) twilight will begin at 5:41 am and the Sun will rise at 6:41 am (times in EST, as daylight savings will have ended). The Sun will reach a maximum elevation of 35.0 degrees at 11:52 am, sunset will be at 5:02 pm, and evening twilight will end at 6:02 pm. By the time of the full Moon in December, sunrise will be at 7:12 am, the maximum altitude the Sun reaches will be 6.4 degrees lower in the sky, 28.6 degrees at 11:59 am, and sunset will be at 4:46 pm (one of the earliest sunsets of the year).

On the morning of the November full Moon, as morning twilight begins, the bright stars of the local arm of the Milky Way, our home galaxy, will be visible in the southwest. The bright planet Jupiter will high in the sky near the bright star Regulus, and will appear to shift higher in the sky and more towards the west each evening, almost in lock step with Regulus (Jupiter will actually appear to stop its motion relative to the stars on December 9th and begin its retrograde motion). Mercury reached its greatest angular separation from the Sun on November 1, 2014 and will be sinking from view by mid-November, passing on the far side of the Sun as seen from the Earth a few days after the full Moon in December. By the time of the full Moon in December, Saturn will begin to appear low in the east-southeast in the pre-dawn sky, having passed on the far side of the Sun as seen from the Earth on Tuesday, November 18, 2014.

On the evening of the November full Moon, as evening twilight ends, the three bright stars of the summer triangle are nearly directly overhead. Deneb in the constellation Cygnus (the swan) is the closest to directly overhead, with Vega, the brightest, in the constellation Lyra (the lyre), a little west and Altair in the constellation Aquila (the eagle) to the southwest of Deneb. The red planet Mars will appear in the southwest about 20 degrees above the horizon. Venus is lost in the glow of the Sun during this period, having passed on the far side of the Sun as seen from the Earth on October 25, 2014. Venus does not begin to emerge in the west-southwest as the evening star until later in December.

In past Moon missives, I have listed the Near Earth Objects (NEOs) that are predicted to pass within 20 lunar distances of the Earth, but we are getting so good at finding these that I am scaling back to listing NEOs expected to pass within ten lunar distances. At the time I am preparing this Moon note, only one NEO is projected to pass this close, but I expect we will find more. Since the world-wide observing network is constantly finding new objects and providing improved predictions, you can go to the web site at http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/ca/ to find out the latest on these close approaches.

On Thursday evening, October 30, 2014, the waxing Moon will appear half full as it reaches
first quarter at 10:48 pm EDT (reminding me that it is time to send out another Moon missive).

Friday, October 31, 2014, is Halloween. According to Wikipedia, the word dates back to about 1745 and comes from the Scottish term for All Hallows’ Eve, and All Hallows’ is a term that dates back to Old English. In our modern calendar, we consider the seasons as starting with the equinoxes and the solstices. The ancient Celtic calendar considered the change in seasons occurring at the halfway points between the solstices and the equinoxes. Many scholars think our Halloween customs trace back to the ancient Celtic celebrations for the start of winter under this Celtic calendar.

The latest sunrise of the year will be on Saturday, November 1, 2014, with the Sun rising at 7:35 am EDT for the Washington, DC area. For much of the U.S. at least, since 2007 when Congress changed the end of Daylight Savings from the last weekend in October to the first weekend in November, the latest sunrise of the year occurs just before the end of Daylight Savings Time. For the Washington, DC area, without daylight savings time, the latest sunrises would be in late December and early January (at 7:27 am EST rounded to the nearest minute). Because of daylight savings time, sunrise will be later than 7:27 am EDT from Saturday morning, October 25 through Saturday morning November 1, 2014. If it seems unusually difficult to wake up during the workweek of October 27 to 31, these unusually dark mornings provide a plausible (and perhaps even valid) excuse.

On Saturday morning, November 1, 2014, the Planet Mercury will reach its greatest angular separation from the Sun in the morning sky. Try looking near the horizon, just a little south of east, just as morning twilight begins (for the Washington, DC area, try looking at about 6:36 am EDT, 6.5 degrees above the horizon, halfway between east and east-southeast). Below and a little to the right of Mercury is the bright star Spica (about 2 degrees above the horizon).

On Sunday morning, November 2, 2014, don’t forget to “Fall Back” one hour as Daylight Savings Time ends. At 2:00 am Daylight Time the clock officially turns back to 1:00 am Standard Time. For the Washington, DC area, sunrise on Sunday will be at 6:36 am EST and sunset will be at 5:06 pm EST.

For several mornings around Tuesday, November 4, 2014 (when they will appear at their closest), the planet Mercury will appear near the bright star Spica. To see them, you will need a clear view of the horizon a little to the east of east-southeast. Try looking just as morning twilight begins (around 5:39 am EST for the Washington, DC area, when Mercury will appear about 6 degrees above the horizon and Spica will appear to the right of Mercury.

As mentioned above, the next full Moon will be on Thursday evening, November 6, 2014.

On Thursday, November 8, 2014, sometime between 3:00 and 4:20 pm EST (20:41 UTC with 40 minutes uncertainty), Near Earth Object (2014 UX57), between 15 and 35 meters (49 to 115 feet) in diameter, will pass the Earth at about 3.6 lunar distances, traveling at 8.38 kilometers per second (18,750 miles per hour).

On Saturday evening, November 8, 2014, the bright star Aldebaran will appear to the right of the nearly full Moon. For the Washington, DC area, Aldebaran will rise at about 6:33 pm EST and the Moon will rise 7 minutes later at about 6:40 pm EST. They will appear about 3 degrees apart when they rise but by the time they reach their highest in the sky (Sunday morning at about 1:56 pm EST) they will appear about 6 degrees apart, and will continue to appear to separate until Aldebaran is lost in the glow of morning twilight.

The Taurid meteor shower is a broad streams of dust, causing a general increase in the number of shooting stars from late September to early December. In general, the best time to look for meteors is between midnight and dawn (for the same reasons that more raindrops hit the front of a speeding car than the back, towards dawn is the way the Earth is headed in our orbit around the Sun). The Taurids are associated with the comet Encke, and along with Encke are thought to be remnants of a larger comet that has been breaking up over the last 20,000 to 30,000 years. The stream has two peaks (possibly caused by the gradual disintegration of other pieces of the original comet). The Southern Taurids peaked on the morning of October 9th. The Northern Taurids will peak between late Wednesday, November 12, 2014 and dawn on Thursday, November 13, 2014, expected to average about 7 to 10 meteors per hour. Unfortunately, this is not a good year to go out and look for the peak, as the waning gibbous Moon will be in the sky and its light will make it harder to see these meteors. The name Taurid means they appear to radiate out from the constellation Taurus. If you do try to look for these meteors, it is best to be far away from city lights with a clear view of the sky, and the best place to look is a bit away from Taurus (as a meteor headed straight towards you will not produce a long streak, making it harder to see).

Late Thursday evening into Friday morning, November 13 to 14, 2014, the bright planet Jupiter will appear to the left of the waning gibbous (but nearly half full) Moon. For the Washington, DC area, the Moon will rise Friday evening at around 11:09 pm EST, with Jupiter rising about 10 minutes later, appearing about 9 degrees to the left of the Moon. When Morning twilight begins at around 5:49 am EST, Jupiter will appear about 5 degrees to the upper left of the Moon and the Moon will be near its highest in the sky.

On Friday, November 14, 2014, the Moon will appear half full as it reaches its last quarter at 10:16 am EST.

On Saturday morning, November 15, 2014, the bright star Regulus will appear to the left of the waning crescent Moon (still appearing nearly half full). For the Washington, DC area, Regulus will rise late Thursday night a few minutes before midnight, and the Moon will rise on Friday morning at about 12:04 am EST. When they rise, they will appear about 5 degrees apart. By the time morning twilight begins, at about 5:50 am EST Saturday morning, Regulus will appear about 6 degrees above the Moon.

The Leonid meteor shower will be active from November 5th through November 30th, and will peak late in the evening on Monday, November 17 through the early morning of Tuesday, November 18, 2014. The best time to look will be after midnight Tuesday morning but before the waning crescent Moon rises (at 2:52 am EST for the Washington, DC area). If you are far away from city lights, with a clear view of a sky with no clouds or haze, and you give your eyes time to adapt to the dark, you may be able to see about 15 meteors per hour. These meteors are dust from the comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle and hit the Earth’s atmosphere at about 71 kilometers per second (160,000 miles per hour).

On Wednesday morning, November 19, 2014, the bright star Spica will appear near the waning crescent Moon. For the Washington, DC area, the Moon will rise in the east-southeast around 3:50 am EST, with Spica rising about about 4 degrees below the Moon at 4:14 am EST. They will continue to appear higher in the sky and closer together until they are lost in the glow of morning twilight at around 5:54 am EST (and would actually appear at their closest in the mid-morning when we cannot see them).

On Friday morning, November 21, 2014, the thin waning crescent Moon will appear near the planet Mercury. For the Washington, DC area, the Moon will rise around 5:51 am EST, morning twilight will begin around 5:56 am EST, Mercury will rise around 6:08 am EST, and the Sun will rise at around 6:57 am EST. To see them, you will need a very clear view of the horizon in the east-southeast (and closer to sunrise binoculars might help, but PLEASE do not use binoculars to scan the horizon near or after the time of sunrise – PERMANENT eye damage can result from looking directly at the Sun, and using any sort of magnifying device to focus even more sunlight into your eyes would damage you even more quickly and make the damage substantially worse)!

Saturday, November 22, 2014, at 7:32 am EST is the New Moon.

On the evening of Tuesday, November 25, 2014, and again the next evening, Wednesday, November 26, 2014, the waxing crescent Moon and the planet Mars will appear about 10 degrees apart in the southwest. Try looking about 20 degrees above the horizon as evening twilight ends (around 5:50 pm EST for the Washington, DC area).

On Saturday morning, November 29, 2014, the Moon will appear half full as it reaches its first quarter at 5:06 am EST.

On Monday, December 1, 2014, with a good backyard telescope, you may be able to use the waxing gibbous Moon to guide you to a view of the planet Uranus, which will appear close to and just below the Moon. Uranus is not visible without a telescope and was unknown to humanity before William Herschel discovered it in 1781.

For the Washington, DC area, the 12 day period from Monday, December 1, 2014 through Friday, December 12, 2014 will be he earliest sunsets (i.e., darkest evenings) of the year. Rounded to the nearest minute, sunset will be at 4:46 pm EST across these dates. A couple of years ago I wrote up a description of why the earliest sunsets occur before the winter solstice (and the latest sunrises occur after the winter solstice, ignoring Daylight Savings Time), which I can send you upon request (as this Moon missive is long enough as it is).

On Friday evening, December 5, 2014, the bright star Aldebaran will appear below the nearly full Moon. For the Washington, DC area, when evening twilight ends at around 5:49 pm EST, the Moon will appear about 13 degrees above the eastern horizon with Aldebaran appearing about 2.5 degrees below the Moon. By the time the Moon and Aldebaran appear at their highest in the sky at around 11:45 pm EST they will have moved until they appear quite close, a little more than one lunar diameter apart. After this they will appear to drift apart until morning twilight begins on Saturday morning at around 6:09 am EST, when they will appear about 3 degrees apart.

The full Moon after next will be on Saturday morning, December 6, 2014.