Seasonal skies offer up the closest supermoon since 1948


Seasonal skies offer up the closest supermoon since 1948.

Welcome to the cooler days and nights of Arizona. Get set for the many wonders of our fall night skies.

October begins with a great view of Venus in the western sky. The second planet from the sun, after nearly a year of seeing Venus in the morning sky, it’s now a major player

in our evening sky. An amazing event takes place on the night of Oct. 3, as the waxing moon passes some five degrees from the goddess of love and beauty, Venus. This should make for a great photo opportunity of these two bright objects. At this time, Venus is 85 percent illuminated, while the moon is only 8 percent illuminated.

Venus remains in the evening sky for the remainder of 2016, as it moves lower into the southwest at sunset, into the zodiac signs of Sagittarius and Capricorn. Mars and Saturn remain low in the southwest at sunset and get closer to the setting sun as the year ends.

The moon puts on a great show in October, as it starts off the month as a waxing moon,

reaching first quarter on the 9th. The full moon of October occurs on the night of the 15th. This full moon is known as the Full Hunters Moon. The moon will actually be full at 9:24 p.m. MST on the 15th for us here in Arizona.

October’s full moon, will also be a supermoon, as it will be some 222,253 miles away from Earth. The moon then moves on to last quarter on the 22nd and finally the new moon, or dark of the moon, on Oct. 30­––just in time for Halloween.

One of the great meteor showers of the year, the Orionids, will peak on the morning of Oct. 21. Look to the eastern sky from 3 a.m. till dawn on the date listed, as well as a few days before or after. The Orionids are debris from the most famous of all comets––Halley’s Comet. The last quarter moon will be in the way of some of your observations, but you still may get to see upwards of 20 meteors per hour.

As the year comes to a close, we look to the cool skies of November with great relief.

As the summer Milky Way slowly sets in the southwest at sunset, we turn our attention to more interesting sights. Venus moves lower into the southwest at sunset as Venus starts to get closer to Mars and Saturn in the early evening twilight. The waxing moon makes for a nice sight on the 2nd, as Venus and the Moon appear close in the southwest at sunset.

The moon in November is very active too, as it reaches first quarter on the 7th, then races on to the closest full moon of all of 2016, with the Full Beaver Moon of Nov. 14.

This full moon will come close to Earth––221,524 miles. Not since Jan. 24, 1948, has the moon been this close. This supermoon will be full at exactly 6:52 a.m. MST. To get the best view of this event, I suggest that you look at the moon on the night of Nov. 13 and follow the moon as it glides high in our Arizona skies. The moon will be setting at this time and will make for a spectacular picture, as it lies above the western horizon during early drive time.

In the realm of space, we have two missions that are worth our attention. If all goes well, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft should be on its way to the asteroid known as Bennu.

This is an asteroid sampling mission, and the main goal is capturing roughly 2.1 ounces of asteroid material and bringing it back to Earth in 2023. Also of note, the Juno spacecraft has been in Jovian orbit since July, so we should start to see some images and science coming back from Jupiter.




November 2016

Don’t miss November’s super moon, as there will be no super moon in 2017.

The next super moon will occur on Jan. 2, 2018


NASA Asteroid Mission

OSIRIS- REx Mission. The objective is to collect samples of asteroid Bennu and return the samples to Earth in 2023.

Bennu is an 1,650-foot-wide asteroid.

This is a seven-year round trip voyage.

Asteroid Bennu is a near earth asteroid that could get close to the Earth in the 22nd century.

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