Moon & Mercury – May 14th

And Venus.

Last night the Moon and Mercury were close to one another, able to fit into the field of my 300mm zoom lens. Venus was way, waaaaaay down near the setting Sun and while folks with flat horizons were seeing it, I have trees, houses, and a small mountain to my west.

Tonight everything had moved, as celestial bodies tend to do. It’s that whole space-time, circling around in the gravity well thing. Which meant that Venus was a bit higher, and even though it was still too bright to see Mercury, Venus is a lot brighter than Mercury and I could juuuuuust see it above the trees as it was setting.

See it? To the right of the phallic tree, just barely above those trees. If you click on the image to get the full-sized photo, you’ll see it…

This cell phone image, blown up to the limit of resolution looks fuzzy – tomorrow night go out (assuming it’s clear) and if you can, take a pair of binoculars. Venus is very bright, looks like a diamond shining against the gathering dusk. Spectacular.

Sort of like this, with the good camera, just as it was disappearing.

Even without a lot of magnification, similar to what you would see with the naked eye, it stands out pretty well.

But there weren’t any pictures with the Moon, Mercury, and Venus. Too bright as Venus was setting. So I waited until it got darker.

About a half hour later, the Moon in the upper left, Mercury about halfway between the trees to the right of the phallic tree, just below being level with the top of it.

Compared to last night, it’s easy to see how much the Moon moves from one night to the next.

A cropped image of the crescent moon, three and a half days past new moon.

Similarly cropped image of overexposed moon, showing the dark portion of the moon in Earthshine.

Full-frame crescent moon in Earthsine.

It will probably be a couple of days before Venus climbs up high enough to be seen in the dark sky with Mercury, and by that time the Moon will be close to or past a quarter moon, way out of this picture. Just as well, the forecast is iffy for the next couple of evenings here.

However…

On the early morning before sunrise on Wednesday, May 26th, there will be a total eclipse of the moon. (See examples of what it will look like here and here.) You won’t see it if you’re on the US east coast or Europe, but you will probably see some or all of it in eastern Asia or on the west coast of North America. In Los Angeles, the partial eclipse begins at 02:45 AM, totality begins at 04:11 AM, maximum eclipse is at 04:18 AM, totality ends at 04:25 AM, and the partial phase ends at 05:52, right at sunrise.

As they say, mark your clocks and set your calendars!

 

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