The Sky Tonight Update: Blue Moon & Mars at Opposition, May 20-23

This May 21st, the Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be fully illuminated. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Flower Moon because this was the time of year when spring flowers appeared in abundance. This moon has also been known as the Full Corn Planting Moon and the Milk Moon. Since this is the third of four full moons in this season, it is known as a blue moon. This rare calendar event only happens once every few years, giving rise to the term, “once in a blue moon.” There are normally only three full moons in each season of the year. But since full moons occur every 29.53 days, occasionally a season will contain 4 full moons. The extra full moon of the season is known as a blue moon. Blue moons occur on average once every 2.7 years.

Also, this May 22nd, the red planet Mars will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. It will be brighter than any other time of the year and will be visible all night long.  This happens because when Mars lies opposite the Sun in the sky, the solar system is lined up so that Mars, the Earth and the Sun form a straight line with the Earth in the middle, on the same side of the Sun as Mars.

This is the best time to view and photograph Mars and can easily be found when it appears in the constellation, Scorpius.  From Baton Rouge it will be visible between 8pm and 5am.

A medium-sized telescope will allow you to see some of the dark details on the planet’s orange surface.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s