Friday, July 18, 2014

Tonight's Sky for July 18: Third Quarter Moon Meets Uranus

Today, the Moon, second brightest object in the sky, has reached the Third Quarter phase, which means that it is exactly 270 degrees around its orbit of Earth. 

As for lunar mechanics, the Moon is always half lit. The reason we don't always see it as such is thanks to orientation in relation to us. Right now, with the Moon at a 90 degree angle relative to the Earth and Sun, we see the Moon as half lit and half dark, leading to the popular, erroneous phrase 'half Moon.'

After today, we will see less and less of the Moon as its lit side turns more away from us and heads toward a new lunar cycle.

As a bonus, the Moon will be very near Uranus tonight. To help find the planet, refer to the sky chart below. The good news: while Uranus is dim, it has a very un-star like color: teal, which serves to betray its true identity.

Good luck with planet hunting!

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