Hey, Sky Fans! Happy Friday! What a busy week, but the hummos, with favas this time, is done, the bagels are bagelling, the tidy outline of a book I’m working on will be done by the time the kids get home, and the beer is in the icebox. I hope, if your week has been busy, too, you’ve got a great weekend ahead.
Speaking of the weekend, tonight, Friday, catch the Moon in a nice, almost straight line with the giant yellow planet Saturn to its right, and then the giant red star Antares a little lower and to Saturn’s right. If you continue to the right, you’ll come to the giant stripey planet, Jupiter, brightening the high southwest skies after dark.
But wait, there’s more! The Full Buck Moon, sometimes, also, the Full Thunder Moon, will be in your sky this weekend, though farther from Saturn. I hedge a little here with good reason, I hope. The actual moment of fulloscitude, when that Sun-Earth-Moon line is straight as a pin and the Moon is at opposition, directly opposite the Sun in the sky, is at 4:07 UTC Sunday, July 9. So, depending on where you are, the exact timing of when you’ll see the full Moon will vary based on that.
Here in the US, 4:07 UTC Sunday translates to 12:07 AM Eastern, 11:07 PM Saturday, July 8, Central, 10:07 Mountain, and 9:07 Pacific. Effectively for the whole US we’re talking about Saturday night. If you’re awake and not doing other things, you can look out at the sky at the right moment, point, and say “Yep.”
Not to minimize what’s going on, but things in space don’t usually happen very fast on a human time scale. The world will see the Moon as pretty close to full Saturday and Sunday nights. After that the Moon will round the corner and start heading back in toward the new Moon.
This particular full Moon is kind of an interesting one. First, it’s the last full Moon before the anniversary of our old friends Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin cutting the Eagle’s engines at tranquility base. They became the first people ever to walk on another world 48 years ago this month.
Also, these summer full Moons are really interesting. Taken on their own, it’s just another full Moon. Wonderful enough, but easy to take for granted. In the context of the greater pattern of the solar system, you can really start to see the seasonal shifts we experience every day.
Full Moons rise at sunset and set at sunrise, which means they mirror the Sun. Since the daylight hours are at their longest now, though, admittedly, they’re shrinking, that gives less time for July’s full Moon to be in the sky. The longer the Sun is up, as it is in summer, the shorter the amount of time the Moon is up. In fact in the northern hemisphere, June’s and July’s full Moons spends the least time above the horizon of all full Moons. What’s more, with the Sun sailing so high up in the sky these days, our view of the Moon keeps it relatively low and toward the south in the sky all night.
In winter, like it is now in the southern hemisphere, the days are short. So, for those people, this full Moon will be up much longer, and arc much higher overhead.
If you can, grab a look, and try to imagine the bigger picture of it all. You really can start to piece it all together.
Have a great weekend, everyone. Thanks for stopping by, and clear skies!