Hey, Space Placers!
BE SURE TO CHECK OUT THE SKY TONIGHT RIGHT AT SUNSET AND THROUGH THE NIGHT!
CHECK YOUR WEATHER FOR TONIGHT!
Why? Because the Full Cold Moon - the last Full Moon for 2022 - will meet with bright, reddish colored planet Mars, high overhead in our sky.
The Full Cold Moon occurs at 11:08 p.m. EST and is aptly named for the cold temps we feel in the Northern Hemisphere as Winter approaches and occurs on the Winter Solstice, December 21st, 4:48 p.m. EST. The Winter Solstice marks our shortest amount of daylight for the year as the Sun is at its lowest point in the sky. The Sun then begins its daily climb higher into the sky for the next three months leading to Spring.
At the time the Full Cold Moon occurs the planet Mars will be VERY close to the Moon in the sky. For much of North America, but alas not the DMV, The Moon will actually pass in front of Mars, or occult the Red Planet. For the DMV Mars will be much less than a finger-width away from the bottom of the Moon and closest at about 10:43 p.m. EST. If you have binoculars or a small telescope with a wide view eyepiece the view will be quite striking.
The occultation of Mars by the Full Cold Moon will be live-streamed by a number of organizations so refer to the EarthSky article to pick one.
Earth will also pass directly between Mars and the Sun tonight at 11:00 p.m. marking the opposition of the Red Planet. The two planets were closest to one another on December 1st at a distance of about 51 million miles. Mars will continue to be bright in our sky for the next few weeks and then begin to pull away from Earth and start to dim.
Oh, and be sure to tune in Sunday at 11:00 a.m. EST for NASA’s coverage of the splashdown of Artemis I off the coast of San Diego, CA. The uncrewed mission to the Moon has been “picture” perfect so far in terms of the Orion spacecraft’s performance and the literal “out of this world” pictures it has taken.
I’ll be at sea next week headed for the Caribbean via the Bermuda Triangle and I’ll be on the lookout for the Geminid Meteor Shower. The peak will be the night of December 13-14 . I’ll have more on that next Monday.
Sky Guy in VA