Whats up in the sky October 11-17

As Delta moves out, dry and pleasant weather makes seeing Mars at its brightest and an earthly glow to a (kind-a) supermoon.

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Earthshine seen from the ISS
Tony Rice
, NASA Ambassador

While the remnants of hurricane delta through North Carolina on Sunday, with some lingering showers on Monday, WRAL meteorologist Zach Maloch forecasts dry and pleasant weather for much of the upcoming week. Showers will not be back in the forecast until Friday.

Over the next few mornings, look to the east about an hour before sunrise for the crescent Moon, Venus and the bright star Regulus. Mars remains bright throughout the month and reaches its brightest of the year on Tuesday evening. A supermoon, by one definition, rises Thursday evening, but you wont be able to see it, or will you? Read on.

This isn't a great week to look for the International Space Station. By mid next week it will be passing directly over central North Carolina.

Monday October 12

Asteroid 2020TS1 will pass within the Moon's orbit about 154,000 miles away. There is no danger of this asteroid hitting Earth or the Moon.

Image: JPL Small-Body Database Browser

Tuesday October 13

Mars is at opposition. This means it is exactly opposite the Sun in our sky, rising at sunset and setting at sunrise. This is also when it is at its brightest of the year. Mars will remain very bright throughout the rest of the month.

The bright star Regulus will be about 6 degrees from the waning crescent Moon. The pair should be visible from moonrise around 3:30 to the beginning of twilight just before 6:30 a.m.

Though WRAL meteorologist Zach Maloch's forecast for the beginning of the week said dry and pleasant weather is next for much of the upcoming week. Showers will not be back in the forecast until Friday.

Wednesday October 14

This time it is the bright planet Venus just ot the upper right of the waning crescent Moon, rising around 4:30 am until twilight around 6:30 a.m.

The NC Museum of Natural Sciences will be offering a live program from the Daily Planet theater via YouTube from noon-1 p.m.: Lunchtime Discovery Series: The End Of The World, An Introduction To The End-permian Mass Extinction

Friday October 16

The Moon turns new at 3:31 p.m. as it passes between Earth and the Sun. About four hours later, at 7:47 p.m., the Moon will be at perigee, its closest to Earth for this orbit. The astrologer who coined the term calls this a supermoon, though most public interest is in full Moons near perigee. Still, this is a great time to see a phenomenon known as Earthshine.

Portions of the Moon not lit directly by the Sun, especially during new and thin crescent late this week, can still be seen with light reflected off Earth. The phenomenon was captured in Neil Peart’s lyrics for Earthshine, featured on Rush’s 2002 album Vapor Trails. Peart, an avid reader, often wrote about scientific themes, even describing the orbital mechanics that make the phenomenon possible: “On certain nights, when the angles are right…”


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