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Celestial Crescents, the ISS, and an Un-Super Moon
updated: Dec 04, 2013, 9:58 AM
By Chuck McPartlin
Once again, the Moon and Venus are pairing up in our southwest
sky. At sunset on Thursday, December 5, take a look at the fairly
thin crescent Moon with Venus a couple of degrees below. Through
binoculars, you may be able to see that Venus is also a crescent,
illuminated from the side by the Sun as it swings around to pass
between us and the Sun in January, transitioning into our morning
The crescent state of Venus will get even easier to see by Christmas,
as Venus grows brighter. Despite becoming a thinner and thinner crescent,
it is getting closer, and that drives the brightness equation.
Back in June, we had a perigean, or "Super" Full Moon, where the Moon
was closer and appeared larger than average. Coming up on the evening
of December 16/17, we will have an apogean Full Moon, the farthest of
the year. An Un-Super Moon? If you took photos of the Super Moon, take
some of the Un-Super Moon with the same camera settings and lenses, and
you should be able to see the difference.
In June, the Full Moon was only 221,824 miles away, but for December
it will be 250,908 miles distant, a 13% difference in apparent size.
The ISS is once again visiting our evening skies, with five decent
Saturday, December 7 - The ISS will rise in the SW at 6:32 PM, pass
briefly below Venus and the Moon, and at 6:35 disappear into the
shadow of the Earth while still quite high.
Sunday, December 8 - The ISS will make a low pass across our ocean
horizon, rising in the SSW at 5:43 PM, and disappearing in the E
Monday, December 9 - It will rise in the WSW at 6:31 PM, pass NW
toward the mountains, and disappear while fairly high at 6:34.
Tuesday, December 10 - This will be the brightest pass, starting at
5:41 PM in the SW. and passing almost overhead to the NE, disappearing
Thursday, December 12 - This will be the dimmest pass, rising in the W
at 5:40 PM, and passing low above our mountain horizon, vanishing at 5:46
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