Clear Sky, Bright Moon

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April 29th, 2018, 10:45 p.m. local time

My sky was remarkably clear all weekend.  Blue skies at day and clean skies all night.  Just one problem, though – the Moon was approaching Full and washed much of the sky out.  So I settled for looking at the Moon, mostly.  Jupiter was trailing behind the Moon on Sunday evening, but unfortunately I would have had to wait another 90+ minutes before it cleared my trees, and I could not stay up past midnight.

I took the above picture using my Dobsonian and smartphone.  I have mentioned before that the Full Moon is the least interesting of all of the Moon’s phases.  There are no crater shadows, no crescents or odd-shaped ovals.  No new thin outlines in early evening or old thin outlines at dawn.  Looking at the Full Moon is like staring at a moderately bright light bulb.

It is still fun to look at.  The brightness is a marvel, whether it is by the Moon illuminating your night surroundings or (my favorite) by you observing the light reflections off of cloud cover.

Just Moon

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April 19th, 2018, 08:35 p.m. local time

On Monday we had the wonderful pairing of the Moon and Venus.  They were framed perfectly side-by-side in the early evening Western sky.  Yesterday brought snow, which meant clouds and nothing to see.  But all the snow melted by afternoon today and the sky cleared once again.  The Moon is now significant higher than Venus after Sunset, and fuller.  So I took my digital camera and tripod outside to take the above picture.

It is significantly harder to manually focus on the Moon when it is a waxing crescent like this.  That is because there is less surface area to gauge than, by comparison, the Full Moon.

Nearly Missed This Gem – Moon and Venus after Sunset

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April 17th, 2018, 08:20 p.m. local time

I saw the notice that the Moon and Venus were going to be close to each other tonight.  I didn’t think it would be very visible.  I was very wrong.  About 45 minutes after Sunset these two sparkled cleanly in my West sky.  Despite the unseasonably cold chill (the reason I have not posted anything for several weeks), I set up my camera to take this photograph.

Speaking of our Solar System, Jupiter is on its way.  I happened to be outside this morning at 2:30, and our largest planet was shining so bright I almost forgot what it was!  Opposition is now less than a month away and I am looking forward to dragging my telescopes out to see it very soon again up close.