Venus In Red, Minneapolis, Minnesota, shot December 1st, 2008 with a point-and-shoot Canon, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
On December 1st, the Moon aligned in a triad with the elusive beauty of Venus and the expansiveness of Jupiter. Born in the sign of Cancer, the Moon is my ruling planet. I was alerted that morning by my sister-in-law and brother in Pennsylvania. By the time night rolled around, the frigid winter sky offered a clear, firsthand view from my deck in Minnesota.
My sister-in-law also provided a link to an article in the comments on Frost Moon (Faux November) which gives an excellent synopsis of a night spectacle which will not be seen again until 2052. Here are a few more tidbits from Look to Sky for Spectacular Sight Monday by Joe Rao of Space.com:
- the Moon was 15% illuminated in close proximity to the two brightest planets in our sky, Venus and Jupiter
- Jupiter in this photograph is just above Venus and moving in the opposite direction. By the end of December, Jupiter will meet up with the planet Mercury, but will be descending deep into the glow of sunset.
- Earth shines between 45 and 100 times more brightly than the Moon
- the Moon is approximately 251,400 miles from Earth
- Venus is nearly 371 times farther away than the Moon, 93.2 million miles from Earth
- Jupiter is almost 2,150 times farther away than the Moon, 540.3 million miles from Earth
- With the naked eye you could see the full globe of the Moon, with the darkened portion glowing bluish-gray between a sunlit crescent and not much darker sky. The vision is sometimes called “the Old Moon in the Young Moon’s arms.” Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) was the first to recognize it as what we now call Earthshine.
- Earthshine is sunlight which is reflected off Earth to the moon and then reflected back to Earth
In addition to the December triangulation of the Moon, Venus, and Jupiter, last Friday, December 12th (12th month, 12th day, and the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe) was the Full December Cold Moon. It was the 13th Moon since Winter Solstice 2007 and a Blue Moon by the traditional definition. I had dinner with a friend and the night was again crystal clear for the Cold Moon with glowing rings illuminating nearby clouds.
There is a great article on the Blue Moon by Cayelin K Castell at Celestial Timings called Understanding the Blue Moon (with dates to 2040). In the article, she explains that although popular culture’s definition of Blue Moon is two full moons in a one-month period, Sky and Telescope Magazine states the original meaning of the Blue Moon is when there are four Full Moons in one season, creating 13 Full Moons from December Solstice to December Solstice.
It’s a rare event that only happens every two and half to three years. The New Moon Winter Solstice is this weekend. Bear awaits in the darkness.
-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, December 16th, 2008