Wednesday, April 16, 2014

“M” is for the Moon and Mars

M_thumb“Ronan sighed. He flung back his head and stared at the sky. «Mars is bright tonight.» «Yeah,» said Hagrid, «but have yeh seen anythin’, Ronan? Anythin’ unusual?» «MarsMars-in-Opposition_thumb is bright tonight,» Ronan repeated. «Unusually bright.»1

This month our skies have presented us with some pretty nifty surprises. In fact, as Ronan noted, Mars has been especially bright this HPIM1731_thumb7month, because it has been somewhat closer than usual, and even the reddish color of our nearest planet has been quite visible to the human eye. It was an even better show for those blessed with a telescope. On April 8, Mars was in opposition to the Earth and the sun, which is similar to an eclipse, with the Earth in between the two. Although I’m not lucky enough to have a functioning telescope, the event was live-streamed on Internet, and I was able to get a pretty good screen shot. I also got a shot of it with my regular old every day digital camera, which, although not the greatest, is still pretty good for that kind of camera. (it’s the smaller one on the left.)

However, that wasn’t the only astronomical show put on for the Earth’s inhabitants. This past Monday (or Tuesday, depending on where on the American continents you live), we were also given the privilege of watching a total lunar eclipse. There were several interesting points regarding this eclipse. It was the first of 4 total eclipses that will take place around every 6 months during a two year period; the next will be in October, 2014, then April, 2015 and the fourth will be in September 2015. This occurrence is called a Tetrad, and while it is a somewhat rare occurrence, it is not extraordinarily so; seven more are expected during this century, and there was another series during the years 2003 – 2004. For those of you who may have missed the eclipse and would like to see it, click here for eclipse video

One of the more interesting elements of this lunar eclipse was the color: it was the color of blood, earning it the name of the Blood Moon. This is caused by the way the light from the earth illuminates the moon. It is believed that this tetrad will consist of 4 blood moons that will be visible for most of the continental United States. Unfortunately, here on East Coast, the sky was beautiful until an hour before the eclipse (naturally). I DID get a nice photo of the moon at midnight (the silvery moon; it’s a bit fuzzy because of the passing clouds). The rest of the photos were taken as screen shots while watching the eclipse online. They are, from left to right: midnight, 2:45 am, 3:01 am, 3:18 am, 3:41 am this photo is so dark because it was just before it completely changed color), 3:48 am, 4:00 am:

HPIM1460_thumb13 Moon-2-45-am_thumb13 Moon-3-01_thumb12  Moon-3-15_thumb10  Moon-3-41_thumb10  Moon-3-48_thumb24 Moon-4-00_thumb16


1Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, p.253; J. K. Rowling, 1997


©Copyright Mary Purpari “M” is for Mars and the Moon, April 16, 2014

1 comment:

  1. Gorgeous photos Mary! Thanks for sharing these. ☺


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