May & November Skies - Coming Events:
15Lunar Eclipse Party (GreenwoodSchool)
May 15-16; Thursday night-Friday morning 9:Moon
meets Earth’s “outer shadow” (penumbra)
meets Earth’s “inner shadow” (umbra) Moon
is totally within Earth’s “inner shadow” (umbra) Full
Moon is in the middle of its eclipse
begins to exit the umbra Moon
leaves umbra, partially eclipsed by the penumbra 2:15 amMoon is free
from Earth’s shadows May 16Full Moon – Planting Moon or Milk Moon
May 17MCOF General Business Meeting at the CountyLibrary
September 23Autumn equinox – Fall
October 26“Fall back” to
Eastern Standard Time
November 8-9Lunar Eclipse Party (GreenwoodSchool)
November 8-9; Saturday night-Sunday morning
meets Earth’s “outer shadow” (penumbra) Moon
meets Earth’s “inner shadow” (umbra) 8:Moon
is totally within Earth’s “inner shadow” (umbra) Full
Moon is in the middle of its eclipse Moon
begins to exit the umbra, ending the total eclipse 10:Moon
leaves umbra, partially eclipsed by the penumbra Moon is free from Earth’s
November 9Full Moon – Frosty Moon
or Beaver Moon
On the 7th of
May this year the planet Mercury will transit the northwest region of the Sun in
a preview of next years long awaited Venus transit.That rare event, no one alive today has ever seen a transit of Venus,
will take place on June 8th 2004.The planet Venus as it
crosses in front of the Sun will be 5 times as wide as Mercury and about 25
times bigger in area, which will make it a naked eye event.
transit of Mercury will be completely visible in Africa, Asia andEurope, but we will be able to see
only the very end of it.This is
what you must do to catch a glimpse of the planet Mercury as it crosses in front
of the Sun.
must never look directly at the Sun, and must use the Shoebox and pinhole
method.Get a shoebox and glue a
piece of white paper to one end and poke a small nail hole in the other.Point this end of the box at the Sun.Sunlight will enter the box through the nail hole and form an image of
the sun on the white paper.This is
the safest way to view the Sun.It
‘s also a great way to view Sunspots.
view the Mercury transit, get up before sunrise on the morning of May 7th.Sunrise is at that morning.Point your shoebox at the Sun as soon as you can see it.Mercury should still be near the western edge of the Sun.At exactly Mercury will reach the
northwestern edge of the Sun, and at will be completely gone from
in front of the Sun and the transit will be over.
Planet Jupiter will be very near M-44 the Beehive cluster in the constellationCancer until the end of May.
In early April Jupiter completed it retrograde motion and resumed it’s
regular west to east movement against the stellar backdrop.The Retrograde motion of the outer planets is nothing more than an
optical illusion.For awhile each
year all the outer planets seem to turn and move east instead of their normal
motion west to east. Having Jupiter near the Beehive Cluster will make this
Cluster very easy to find with binoculars, and Jupiter and its moons will be in
the same field of view.Also since
there will be many stars of this open cluster in the same field a person could
see Jupiter’s movement night by night.
Beehive Cluster, M-44 is an open cluster of about 300 stars and is about 500
light years distant..
Be sure to view the total eclipse of the Moon on May 15th,
beginning at and ending at .When you look at the Earth’s shadow as the moon moves through it, you
can see that the Earth truly is round. There will be an eclipse party that night
at the observatory.Be sure to
Everyone is invited as the Morgan County Observatory Foundation is
hosting a public stargazing party on Friday evening, May 2 from till at the GreenwoodElementary School site of our county’s beautiful observatory.Amateur astronomers from the Foundation will be present to assist you in
exploring the night sky through the many fine telescopes that will be on hand.Many magnificent celestial objects will be visible including the Jupiter,
Saturn and its rings, the Orion nebula, double stars, and galaxies. Come down to
the observatory facility at the south end of the Greenwood property
and see our county’s telescope.
Displays and hands-on activities will be present and
refreshments will be served. Information will be on hand about the observatory
project and how you can help support efforts to complete construction of the
county’s public observatory to house the donated 16" Cassegrain telescope
from the US Naval Academy. Memberships in the Foundation will be available, with
benefits including: Collector’s edition MCOF Calendar, exclusive Member’s
nights at the Observatory, Quarterly Newsletter and notifications of all events.
The Foundation would like to thank the following new or
returning members and donators for their generous support: Pat & Beth Nolan,
Way of Berkeley
& MorganCounty,and the Moose Lodge.All
donations of $50 or more will be memorialized on Founding Members’ plaques to
be displayed inside the Observatory. More information about astronomy and MCOF
can be found at the Foundation website at http://www.nitesky.org
Come out and enjoy the dark skies of MorganCounty while learning more about astronomy and the
stars. In the event of rain or mostly overcast skies, this event will be
rescheduled for Saturday night May 3rd.Upcoming
events include an Indoor Star Show at the Ice House April 26th on the
Total Lunar Eclipse.
To get to
Greenwood from Berkeley Springs, follow Rt 522 South 2
miles and take a left on Winchester Grade Rd (Rt 13), then travel 9 miles and park at the
school on the left.For
information, call 304-258-1013 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
County Observatory Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit educational organization
founded in 1999.Current officers
are:Kevin Boles, President; Brice
Williams, Vice-president; Roger McIntire, Secretary; Karen Shoemaker, Treasurer.Additional members of the Board of Directors are:Pat Aragon, Robert Campbell, Warren Hart, Leigh Jenkins, BillLands.
members are elected at the Annual Business Meeting of the MCOF, which will next
be on May 17,
earth’s shadow move right to left or left to right?Try to predict the time when the sharp shadow of the Earth will cross a
crater during a lunar eclipse.This
year, you have two good chances to test your predictions with your own
observations and measurements.Keep
records and compare your measurements with MCOF members.Another version of this game is to predict the phase of the moon (or
simply the day of the month) when a selected crater will be at the terminator of
the moon’s own shadow.Also
related to estimating the location of the terminator is a project of using the
length of sharp shadows of certain craters to estimate the height of the crater
walls.A helpful introduction to
lunar terminators is at http://assets.cambridge.org/0521590027/sample/0521590027WSC00.PDF
measurements and estimates of crater height and width can follow the skill and
discipline of triangulation that George Washington learned in his early teens as
he started being a surveyor.It’s
never too late to try your hand at predicting what is going to happen next
eclipse of the Moon doesn’t happen very often, but we see a very dark New Moon
every month - - - with a half-moon every two weeks.Do you know what makes those shadows on the moon’s surface?Fred Espenak likes to teach about eclipses, and his informative site http://www.mreclipse.com/Special/LEprimer.html
is noted on pages 5 & 6.
more information about past and future lunar eclipses is provided by the US Navy
at http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/LunarEclipse.htmlI think that it is interesting that we had three total lunar eclipses in
the winter & summer of 2000-2001, and soon there will be four in the spring
& fall of 2003-2004, (although we cannot see them all from Morgan County).
The Moon is a cold, rocky body about 2,160 miles (3,476
km) in diameter. It has no light of its own but shines by sunlight reflected
from its surface. The Moon orbits Earth about once every 29 and a half days. As
it circles our planet, the changing position of the Moon with respect to the Sun
causes our natural satellite to cycle through a series of phases: New, New
Crescent, First Quarter, Waxing Gibbous, Full, Waning Gibbous, Last Quarter, Old
Crescent and back to New again. The phase known as New Moon can not
actually be seen because the illuminated side of the Moon is then pointed away
from Earth. The rest of the phases are familiar to all of us as the Moon cycles
through them month after month. Did you realize that the word month is
derived from the Moon's 29.5 day period?
To many of us, Full
Moon is the phase of love and romance. When the Moon is Full, it rises at
sunset and is visible all night long. At the end of the night, the Full Moon
sets just as the Sun rises. None of the Moon's other phases have this unique
characteristic. It happens because the Moon is directly opposite the Sun in the
sky when the Moon is Full. Full Moon also has special significance with regard
of the Sun, Earth and Moon During an Eclipse of the Moon.
Earth's two shadows are the penumbra and the umbra.
(Sizes and distances not to scale)
eclipse of the Moon (or lunar eclipse) can only occur at Full Moon, and
only if the Moon passes through some portion of the Earth's shadow. The shadow
is actually composed of two cone-shaped components, one nested inside the other.
The outer or penumbral shadow is a zone where the Earth blocks part but not all
of the Sun's rays from reaching the Moon. In contrast, the inner or umbral
shadow is a region where the Earth blocks all direct sunlight from
reaching the Moon.
Total Lunar Eclipse
·The entire Moon passes through Earth's umbral
·These events are quite striking for the vibrant
range of colors the Moon can take on during the total phase (i.e. - totality).
to four times each year, the Moon passes through some portion of the Earth's
penumbral or umbral shadows and one of three types of eclipses occurs.When
an eclipse of the Moon takes place, everyone on the night side of Earth can see
it. About 35% of all eclipses are of the penumbral type which are very difficult
to detect, even with a telescope. Another 30% are partial eclipses which are
easy to see with the unaided eye. The final 35% or so are total eclipses, and
these are quite extrordinary events to behold.
During a total lunar
eclipse, the Earth blocks all direct sunlight from the Moon. Astronauts on the
Moon would then see the Earth eclipsing the Sun. (They would see a bright red
ring around the Earth as they watched all the sunrises and sunsets happening
simultaneousely around the world!) While the Moon remains completely within
Earth's umbral shadow, indirect sunlight still manages to reach and illuminate
it. However, this sunlight must first pass deep through the Earth's atmosphere
which filters out most of the blue colored light. The remaining light is a deep
red or orange in color and is much dimmer than pure white sunlight. Earth's
atmosphere also bends or refracts some of this light so that a small fraction of
it can reach and illuminate the Moon.
The total phase of a
lunar eclipse is so interesting and beautiful precisely because of the filtering
and refracting effect of Earth's atmosphere. If the Earth had no atmosphere,
then the Moon would be completely black during a total eclipse. Instead, the
Moon can take on a range of colors from dark brown and red to bright orange and
yellow. The exact appearance depends on how much dust and clouds are present in
All total eclipses start
with a penumbral followed by a partial eclipse, and end with a partial followed
by a penumbral eclipse (the total eclipse is sandwiched in the middle). The
penumbral phases of the eclipse are quite difficult to see, even with a
telescope. However, partial and total eclipses are easy to observe, even with
the naked eye.
solar eclipses, lunar eclipses are completely safe to watch. You don't need any
kind of protective filters. It isn't even necessary to use a telescope. You can
watch the lunar eclipse with nothing more than your own two eyes. If you have a
pair of binoculars, they will help magnify the view and will make the red
coloration brighter and easier to see. A standard pair of 7x35 or 7x50
binoculars work fine. Remember to dress warmly and enjoy the spectacle!