The Moon On September 17 2007

Seeing the Moon on September 17, 2007

The Moon is now in the first part of the synodic month and is smack dab in the middle of the moon’s orbital path. It’s been 5 days since it made its last perigee and it is only a week and a half away from its next one. This is also a good time to catch a low ocean tide. As the Moon moves closer to Earth, the true anomaly will increase.

First and foremost is the lunar nod o’ the day, as this is the first time in a decade that the crew of Apollo 11 have not been to the Moon. The most recent voyage was made back to Earth in 2006. They are now reunited with their animal cargo and are safe and sound. NASA is stepping up its communications game and is now more than willing to share images and video of the lunar surface with the public. Likewise, there have been many more launches and missions in the past few years than in the last few decades. So, what are you waiting for? Check out the moon in all its splendor and you’ll be rewarded with a heavenly view.

There are several ways to get your lunar fix, but the most effective is to get your hands on some of the astronomical photographs available from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio. These images are taken from a very high resolution camera and are a treat for the astronomy buff in the family.

The Moon is the nearest celestial object in its orbit around the earth and has a diameter of about 200,000 miles. Considering the size of the Moon and its relatively small orbital radius, it takes quite a while for it to reach the outer reaches of the Solar System. A few notable exceptions are Jupiter and Saturn. The closest the Moon gets to each is about 403 km. For the average joe, it will take about three hours and forty minutes to make the journey. Interestingly, the moon’s farthest distance is actually more than its closest a mere 404 kilometers.

If you have access to a clear sky, it is possible to see the lunar glow. However, the nighttime sky may not be as dark as you’d like. You can find a good chance of observing the Moon from the western horizon. Another good vantage point is the Southern Hemisphere. With luck, you’ll be able to see a lunar eclipse.

While the moon is near its apogee, its apparent angular diameter is on the smaller side. For example, its diameter in the late afternoon is a mere 1775″. Compared to the Sun’s 1909″ diameter, the Moon appears to be 7.3% smaller.

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