Thursday, September 23, 2010

Equinox & Harvest Moonrise, Sept. 22, 2010

I’m sad to see the summer of 2010 draw to a close, but as an astronomer, I also welcome the longer nights of fall, and yes, even winter. And gone too are the humid, hazy summer observing conditions of the Great Lakes region. Plus the time of equinoxes and solstices vaguely raises the public’s awareness of our collective, constant journey around our Sun. Throw in an essentially full Moon rising while the last summer Sun was setting, and Jupiter, only two days past it’s own opposition of the Sun, last week’s equinox was an observation not to be missed.


No telescopes were involved, and I didn’t go anywhere public, but stayed home and appreciated the sights in the sky. Clouds to the west obscured the disappearance of the Sun below the horizon, but made for a pretty sunset, due west. On the other side of the sky, nearly due east, the pink Harvest Moon came over the trees. The Moon hadn’t journeyed far into it’s slanted climb when Jupiter joined the dance following almost in Luna’s footsteps.


I'm an astronomer, yes, but armed with nothing more than a camera to capture the moments, it was a nice reminder that for most of human history, astronomers, farmers, and almost everybody else observed the sky unaided by technology. We are participants in a cosmic journey through space and time, but sometimes it’s nice just to watch it all unfold before our eyes.


The Harvest Moonrise


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The Equinox Sunset


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Jupiter following the Moon.


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The Moon through clouds later.


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