From 1st Quarter to Full Hunter Supermoon

The Moon is at First Quarter (illuminated on the left half) on Sunday. First Quarter moons always rise about mid-day and set about midnight, so they are nicely positioned for seeing in the afternoon sky and the evening sky after dinner. The zone along the terminator line, which separates the light and dark sides, is experiencing sunrise on the Moon, so it is a spectacular sight in binoculars or a telescope.

The Moon glides along its orbit at quite a clip — shifting eastward by one lunar diameter every hour! If you take note of any stars sitting near the Moon early in the evening, the change in the Moon’s position will be apparent only a couple of hours later. On Wednesday evening, October 12, the waxing gibbous Moon will be sitting only about 2° (two finger widths) to the right of tiny blue Neptune. But by 2:45 am on Thursday morning, the edge of the Moon will pass only one-third of a degree to the upper right of Neptune. Both objects will fit together in a telescope eyepiece, but the bright Moon will likely swamp the faint planet. Observers in portions of eastern Russia, Alaska, and northwestern Canada will actually see the moon pass in front of (or occult) the planet. For example, in Anchorage, Alaska, Neptune will disappear behind the dark leading limb of the moon at 9:06 pm local time, and re-emerge from the opposite bright limb at 9:58 pm.

On Saturday night, the Full Moon will pass only 3° below Uranus. The Full Hunter’s Moon arrives just after midnight on Saturday night, October 15. The Moon will look full on both Saturday and Sunday evenings. This month’s full moon occurs only hours before the moon reaches perigee, the point in its orbit closest to Earth. As a result, this full moon will appear slightly larger and brighter, sometimes referred to as a supermoon. We’ll also experience extra high tides.

Stargazing News for this week (from October 9) by Chris Vaughan.

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