Look Up Tonight: Blue Moon/Tomorrow: Mars Opposition Dazzles

Slip in a couple of naps this weekend if you can because you may want to stay up late the next couple of nights to howl at the Blue Moon and gaze at Mars as it gets closer to Earth than it has been for more than a decade!  Monica Mancano, REALTOR®, MRP, AHWD, Century 21 Affiliated www.MonicaMancano.com

The celestial double feature starts Saturday with the Blue Moon and ends with the Mars opposition on Sunday.

Enjoy the YouTube Video perfomed by Chris Isaak & The Scotty Moore Band.

Look Up Tonight: Blue Moon

Tomorrow: Mars Opposition Dazzles

The Blue Moon isn’t blue, and it’s not a Blue Moon as the term is typically understood. And Mars hasn’t been this bright in two years.
 
Look Up Tonight: Blue Moon | Tomorrow: Mars Opposition Dazzles
 

Skies over the Chicago area are clear tonight and it's an ideal time to be outside, with lows ranging from the lower 50s in the suburbs to the mid to upper 50s in the city. Sunday night will be similar.

Blue Moon with a Difference

May’s full Moon — also known as the Full Flower Moon, the Full Corn Planting Moon and the Milk Moon — is not really blue, of course.

And it’s not a Blue Moon as people typically understand the celestial occurrence. A Blue Moon usually refers to the second of two full Moons in a single month, but this one gets its name in a different way.

“Normally, there are only three full Moons in each season, but occasionally there is a season with four full Moons,” Accuweather.com said. “When this happens, like how it is this spring, the third of the four full Moons earns the name of a Blue Moon.”

Red Planet Steals the Show

It’s true that Mercury has greater swings in brilliance than any of the other planets in the solar system and Jupiter is currently the brightest starlike object in the evening sky, but Mars steals the show on Sunday when it and the Sun are on opposite sides of the Earth. That's what's called the Mars opposition.

It will have quadrupled in brilliance since the beginning of April, and at its brightest, Mars shines 80 times more brilliantly than at its dimmest.

The Mars opposition occurs about once every two years.

“From our perspective on our spinning world, Mars rises in the east just as the sun sets in the west,” NASA explained on its website. “Then, after staying up in the sky the entire night, Mars sets in the west just as the sun rises in the east. Since Mars and the sun appear on opposite sides of the sky, we say that Mars is in ‘opposition.’

“If Earth and Mars followed perfectly circular orbits, opposition would be as close as the two planets could get. Of course, nothing about motion in space is quite that simple! Our orbits are actually elliptical (oval-shaped), and we travel a little closer to the sun at one end of our orbits than at the other end.”

Mars has been shining brightly all month and will appear brighter than any star or planet in the sky the next couple of months.

Look Ahead to Meteor Showers

You’ll have to wait a couple of months to see meteor showers.

The Delta Aquarids peak in late July, with up to 20 meteors per hour. There’s no definite peak time for the Delta Aquarids, and the medium-speed meteors go on fairly steadily through late July and early August.

If you can catch only one meteor shower in 2016 make it the Perseids, which peak Aug. 11-12. They often produce 50 to 100 fast, bright meteors per hour during the peak and are known for persistent trails.

— by Beth Dalbey for Patch.com

Image credit: Close-up view of Mars by Hubble Space Telescope via NASA

 

Monica Mancano

Monica Mancano

REALTOR®, SRES®, MRP, AHWD
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