Primary Moon Phases – July 2020!

Hey Sky Fans!

It’s the end of June already. It’s not just that, though. Today, January June 30 is the 183rd day of the year. It probably seems like it was six or seven years ago, but there was a February 29; this is a leap year. So, the 183rd day — today — is the midway point of the year. Believe it or not, after today, there’ll be more 2020 behind us than ahead.

With all this, tomorrow is the start of a new month. Happy New Month, everyone! Here’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the Moon’s primary phases for July 2020!

The Moon’s Primary Phases for July 2020!
  • July 5: Full Moon (this is a penumbral lunar eclipse)
  • July 12: Last Quarter
  • July 20: New Moon
  • July: 27: First Quarter (this is not a penumbral lunar eclipse)

Last time around, I managed to not mention not one, but two eclipses. High five! Not this time, though. Coming up this month, the Moon will be full on July 5 (It’ll look full on July 4 US Time) and late at night will partly slide through the thin outer part of Earth’s shadow. This is what we call, with the big, booming radio voice, a partial penumbral lunar eclipse!!!!{…}!!!

I kid a lot about penumbral lunar eclipses. If we were to list all of the kinda uncommon-ish sky things, from total solar eclipses, though meteor showers, all the way down to the Full Humidity Moon, which is what I think July’s is called, penumbral eclipses are really far toward the bottom of the obvious interestingness list.

Shadows have two main parts: the thin, outer penumbra, and the deeper, darker umbra. Unlike their colleagues in the total lunar eclipse department, penumbral eclipses only pass through that outer part and never turn that deep and roasty red color that we so often talk about when we talk about lunar eclipses. Instead, what we get is dingy, cloudy, grey kind of color.

But, you know, as much as I make fun, there’s something really cool about looking up at the Moon, seeing something not quite right, and understanding and imagining why that is; imagining the solar system at work.

In the case of this eclipse, assuming the skies cooperate, you’ll see that dinginess on part of the Moon, but not the other part. It’ll be soft, and it’ll be subtle, and it’ll be part of the secret language of us sky fans — kind of like the sheer beauty of a third-quarter Moon setting into the midday sky, etched into the blue.

Like I say often, I don’t want to be the person who encourages someone to go look at something that they then don’t see, and ultimately turn away disappointed, “Bah! The Full Humidity Grey Moon looks like any other full Moon!” and never look again. But, maybe this is a chance for us to grab someone we love and point it out to them. Who knows, maybe we can help them look and look and look…

Other than the eclipse, there’s a couple of other cool things happening this month. Also on July 4, Earth will reach aphelion — the farthest point in its orbit around the Sun — and be at about 94.5 million miles / 152.1 million km. This doesn’t really affect your life very much, but it’s kind of neat to know, and in a roundabout sort of way can start a conversations about how the seasons do and don’t work.

Then, on July 5, the now-just-past-full-Moon will team up with our old friends Jupiter and Saturn and cruise the night sky together in a nifty upside-down triangle just off to the side of the Sagittarius teapot asterism. Both of these planets are on their way to opposition this month, the point when they’re directly opposite the Sun as seen from Earth, which means some great summertime viewing. More on all that later, though.

Wow. That’s a lot of words.

Thanks for stopping by, stay safe, and clear skies, eveyone!


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