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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Sky Tonight—March 9, Moon between Pleiades and Ram’s Head

Courtesy of EarthSky
A Clear Voice for Science

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To see Jupiter in March 2011, look west soon after sunset

Just after sunset tonight you will spot the crescent moon above the western horizon. The moon floats between the faint head stars of the constellation Aries and the mythic sisters in the constellation Taurus known as the Pleiades.

The moon is five days past new so it still appears to us as a waxing crescent moon. The best place to tour the moon with your binoculars or telescope is right along the terminator – the shadow line dividing the lunar day from the lunar night. The sun’s light reflects from the moon’s illuminated or “day” side. We are seeing only a portion of the day side: a crescent moon.

You might notice a faint glow on the darkened portion of the crescent moon tonight. This glow is known as earthshine. Basically, sunlight is shining through Earth’s atmosphere and lighting up the darkened part of the moon. This glow on the moon is exactly like what happens around full moon as seen from Earth, when moonlight floods an earthly landscape, lighting it up.

Understanding moon phases

Using binoculars to tour the sky

The little star that you might spot near the moon is 41 Arietis, also known in Hindu astrology as Bharani. This star is quite dim, so you if you are in the city you may need binoculars to see it. The Pleiades star cluster, otherwise known as the Seven Sisters, should be more obvious above the moon. Tomorrow evening, on Thursday, a larger lunar crescent will meet up with the Pleiades on the sky’s dome.

More on the Pleiades: Famous Seven Sisters

This Wednesday evening, however, the moon will shine below the Pleiades and above the Ram’s head.

Hamal, the brightest star of Aries

By EarthSky


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CHANDRA Photo Album

U.S. Naval Observator Astronomical Information center

Universe Today

StarDate Online

Sky and Telescope

National Geographic

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Simostronomy Blog

Amazing Space

The York County Astronomical Society

Scope City

James S McDonnell Planetarium

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