Coronavirus fears keeping you awake? Well, you’ll have a friendly celestial face to keep you company on at least one sleepless night this month — two planets are set to line up with the moon to create a “smiley face,” in an unusual event for skywatchers.
If you look up into the eastern sky during the early morning of May 12, you’ll see Jupiter and Saturn lined up in the sky close enough to look like eyes over a wide, open-mouthed smile of the moon, according to York University astronomy professor Paul Delaney.
This unique face in the sky is what’s called a “conjunction,” Delaney explained.
“Conjunctions are when you get a couple of planets, or a planet and the moon, in a relatively close apparent proximity,” he told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview. “So, when you’re looking in the sky, they’re not very far apart. They are physically still hundreds of millions of kilometres apart. But from our perspective here on the surface of Earth, they look close together in the night sky.”
This is different from an occultation, where one object passes directly in front of another.
Delaney said that planets appear physically close to the moon in the sky many times a year as they go through their orbits around the sun.
But an event where two planets line up above the moon in this manner is much rarer. One notable time this phenomenon occurred was in 2008, when a smiley face made out of Venus, Jupiter and the moon was visible from Australia.
“Jupiter and Saturn will be within about half a hand span, about five degrees away from the moon,” Delaney said. “It will look very much, as you say, like a smiley face.”
As the moon will be at the waning gibbous stage of its cycle, it’ll be a bit more of a wide, excited smile than the emoticon-perfect smile that a crescent moon would’ve provided.
The right “eye” will be Jupiter, and the left will be Saturn, Delaney said.
Due to different perspectives of the moon, in the northern hemisphere, the planets will be poised above the moon’s smile, but from the southern hemisphere the smiley face will appear upside down.
“One will be a happy face. The other will be not quite so happy,” Delaney said. “It will be a sad configuration, if you will, for the folks in the southern hemisphere.”
It will appear for one night only, according to Delaney.
Jupiter and Saturn will be close to each other for May 11-13, but as the moon moves rapidly, it will only line up properly with Jupiter and Saturn to form a face in the early morning on May 12.
The best time to see it from Toronto will be 4 a.m. to 5 a.m. EST, but anyone getting up a few hours earlier in the morning should still be able to catch a glimpse. If you plan on staying up late the night before to spot it, Delaney warns that you probably won’t see anything before 2 a.m. at the earliest.
Of course, this smiley face isn’t an actual sign from the heavens. Humans just love to see patterns in random places, a phenomenon called “pareidolia.” It’s why we can find shapes in clouds and why an asteroid flying by the Earth this week made headlines for appearing to be wearing a face mask.
But in times like these, when smiles are scarce, it’s nice to have the planets spread some positivity anyway.
If you’re looking for more conjunctions happening this month, Mercury and Venus will appear very close together in the sky around May 21, Delaney said.
The Strawberry Moon Eclipse May Be Visible Over Metro Vancouver This Week – 604 Now
Metro Vancouver is in for a treat this week, as we’ll be able to see the Strawberry Moon eclipse shine over the city this Friday.
Named after the red summer fruit, this phenomenon is June’s full moon – or otherwise called the Hot Moon or Rose moon.
This particular moon, however, kicks off 2020’s “eclipse season,” and will be visible during the moonrise and moonset.
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You’ll just have to be ready at either 5:30 am or 8 pm, Friday, to see the eclipse over Metro Vancouver.
So, will you be checking it out this week?
Friday, June 5th is also the day of the second George Floyd protest, happening downtown.
For more Vancouver stories, head to our News section.
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How To Watch The Mesmerising Penumbral Lunar Eclipse This Week – Tyla
A penumbral lunar eclipse is taking place this Friday 5th June – and you may be able to catch a glimpse of the mesmerising spectacle if conditions are good.
A penumbral eclipse is more subtle than a total eclipse but just as fascinating, according to the Royal Observatory Greenwich, explaining that the phenomenon occurs “when the Moon travels only through the outer, fainter part of the Earth’s shadow, or ‘penumbra’.”
They add: “This happens when the Earth moves between the Sun and Moon but the three do not form a perfectly straight line.
“The penumbra causes only a slight darkening of the Moon’s surface, with the Moon still exposed to some direct sunlight, so this type of eclipse is easy to miss.”
This process of passing through the Earth’s shadow not only means that the moon’s surface appears darker, but that it may appear to take on a reddish or tea-coloured tinge.
The Strawberry Moon is the nickname given to the full moon in June. It is said that Native Americans and European tribes would give names to the moon because they used it to map out their yearly calendar and times of harvest.
This Friday’s penumbral eclipse will be visible from most of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and the East coast of South America.
It’s worth noting that a penumbral eclipse can be more difficult to see with the naked eye – this is because only a portion of the sun’s light is blocked from reaching the moon.
According to NASA, the eclipse starts at 18.46 BST and ends at 22.04 BST. If you want to try to catch from your window, it will be at its clearest at 20.25 BST.
The moon will be 230,000 miles from the Earth – quite a close point in its orbit – which means that it should appear quite big.
This year’s penumbral eclipse will pass close pass to the giant red star, Antares, which is around 12 times the size of our own sun.
Happy gazing, earthlings.
The June 2020 Night Sky – Portugal Resident
Welcome to the June night sky. This is the month of the summer Solstice in the northern hemisphere. It happens on the 20th this year and, after that date, the Sun will appear to move slightly lower each day in the mid-day sky. June 20 is, therefore, the longest day of the year and the first day of summer.
Although June also has the shortest nights of the year, it’s not short on meteor showers with more than a dozen of them visible during the month. This means that on any dark night in June, you will have a better-than-average chance of seeing a shooting star.
On the 21st, there is an annular eclipse of the Sun. These types of eclipses occur because, at that time, the Moon is slightly further away from the Earth than usual and, therefore, does not cover the solar disc fully and the ring of fire effect will be seen. Unfortunately, this event is not visible from Europe. The eclipse track is mainly over the Middle East and central China, with the famous city of Wuhan just missing out on the ring of fire but seeing an 86% eclipse at 4pm local time.
The gas giant planets Jupiter and Saturn are now rising just after midnight over in the south-eastern sky. They are both in the far southern constellation of Sagittarius.
Jupiter is the brightest of the pair, and this year Jupiter can be used to help find Pluto. This close encounter between the largest and the smallest planets in the solar system will happen three times this year and is called a triple conjunction. This is quite rare and the last time that it occurred was 65 years ago.
Pluto is seven times further away from the Sun than Jupiter and much smaller, so it is more than a million times fainter and can only be seen in a large telescope and a dark sky.
The ringed planet Saturn is always a fine sight through any small telescope with its rings and multiple faint Moons visible.
Jupiter has four major moons, and these are quite easy to see with any small telescope. Jupiter’s Moons were discovered by Galileo using a tiny homemade telescope magnifying about 20 times and this was more than 400 years ago.
The Moon is full on the 5th, last quarter on the 13th, new on the 21st and first quarter on June 28, 2020.
Clive Jackson is the Director of the Camera Obscura (next to the Castle in Tavira), specialising in education and public outreach.
281 322 527 | firstname.lastname@example.org www.torredetavira.com
To see the June Sky Map click on the pdf link below
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