Monday morning, July 8, 2019
Are you ready for the 50th anniversary of our first moon landing on July 20th? Start the celebration early by looking for our moon in the afternoon or the first half of the night now in early July. Did you see our Moon in the afternoon sky yesterday, between the cumulus clouds floating around?
Today, July 8th, the Moon will be at the same phase as when the Apollo 11 astronauts landed on the Moon on July 20, 1969, fifty years ago.
Of course, you can’t see the equipment left behind on the Moon by the American Apollo moon landing missions, but you can see the areas where they landed, with a bit of direction. And, looking at our Moon is fun, with no optical aid or any at all.
You’ll be able to see this almost-half-moon after sunset tonight, but take a look this afternoon. The moon will rise just after noon local daylight time today and set about 1am. So, by late afternoon, our Moon will be about half-way up in the southern sky.
Here’s a sky chart for 5pm LDT:
Get your own view at for different dates and times at : https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/4442, via NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio. Scroll down further at this site to learn more about how the moon looks at different times of the month and when you can see it.
All of the Apollo landing sites will be (just barely) sunlit by Thursday night through the 21st, when the sun will be setting on the easternmost sites. Ask yourself, “Self, what is special about the order in which they landed at these landing sites.” The answer gives us lots of insight into the Moon itself. We can see the darker areas, where the first landings, Apollos 11 and 12, occurred are less bumpy. It turns out, these darker areas are younger and the brighter, heavily cratered parts are older. By landing in flat areas first, the Apollo program gained confidence. By going to both kinds of areas, we learned more about our Moon. You can see the differences between these two kinds of terrain (lunain?) without any optical aid at all!
Here’s the map for then. It shows what the Moon will look like at the time of Ardsley/Elmsford summer reading club moon presentation, but it’s good for everyone on Thursday evening.
Happy moon viewing!