Astronomy Picture of the Day
Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2018 May 4
The View Toward M101
Image Credit & Copyright: Joonhwa LeeExplanation: Big, beautiful spiral galaxy M101 is one of the last entries in Charles Messier’s famous catalog, but definitely not one of the least. About 170,000 light-years across, this galaxy is enormous, almost twice the size of our own Milky Way galaxy. M101 was also one of the original spiral nebulae observed by Lord Rosse’s large 19th century telescope, the Leviathan of Parsontown. M101 shares this modern telescopic field of view with spiky foreground stars within the Milky Way and a companion dwarf galaxy NGC 5474 (lower right). The colors of the Milky Way stars can also be found in the starlight from the large island universe. Its core is dominated by light from cool yellowish stars. Along its grand design spiral arms are the blue colors of hotter, young stars mixed with obscuring dust lanes and pinkish star forming regions. Also known as the Pinwheel Galaxy, M101 lies within the boundaries of the northern constellation Ursa Major, about 23 million light-years away. NGC 5474 has likely been distorted by its past gravitational interactions with the dominant M101.
Eta Aquariids before dawn May 5 and 6
Before dawn this weekend – May 5 and 6, 2018 – the Eta Aquariid meteor shower reaches its annual peak. Here’s the bad news. A bright moon will interfere with meteor-watching. Here’s the good news. There are some tricks to watching in moonlight. More good news if you live south of the equator … this shower particularly favors the Southern Hemisphere.
It’s true. The moon will be out in force during the prime viewing hours of this predawn meteor shower in 2018. To optimize your chances for seeing meteors, try one or both of these two things. First, try watching in a dark country sky in very late evening, or around midnight, when the moon is either still below the horizon, or low in the sky. You won’t catch as many meteors, but you might catch a few. Don’t know when the moon rises in your sky? Find out with this handy custom sunrise-sunset calendar.
Second, if you’re watching in the prime hours before dawn – when the Eta Aquariid radiant point is highest in your sky, and the most meteors will be flying – try sitting in a moonshadow. That could be the shadow of a barn or large solitary tree or even a mountain, anyplace you can create some extra darkness for yourself while gazing up at an open sky.
It’s hard to say with certainty whether May 5 or May 6 will be the better morning to watch. This shower has a relatively broad peak. Try both mornings. Just remember that – as seen from all parts of Earth – the dark hour before dawn typically presents the greatest number of Eta Aquariid meteors.
And, as always for meteor-watching, be sure to avoid city lights …
Under ideal conditions, the Eta Aquariid meteor shower produces up to 20 to 40 meteors per hour. If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, and you have a very dark sky with no moon, you might see that many in a year when the moon is not in the sky. In the Northern Hemisphere, those living at subtropical and tropical latitudes have the advantage over their more northern counterparts.
North of about 40 degrees north latitude the meteors tend to be sparser. The reason has to do with the time of twilight and sunrise on the various parts of Earth. To learn more, check this post on why more Eta Aquariid meteors are visible in the Southern Hemisphere.
Bottom line: In 2018, the Eta Aquariid meteor produces the most meteors before dawn on May 5 and 6 in the glare of a bright waning gibbous moon.
Bruce McClure has served as lead writer for EarthSky’s popular Tonight pages since 2004. He’s a sundial aficionado, whose love for the heavens has taken him to Lake Titicaca in Bolivia and sailing in the North Atlantic, where he earned his celestial navigation certificate through the School of Ocean Sailing and Navigation. He also writes and hosts public astronomy programs and planetarium programs in and around his home in upstate New York.
Originally published on EarthSky
Before we talk about the Moon in Capricorn, let’s first learn a little bit about the Moon itself. The Moon is considered a planet in astrology, and it moves so quickly that it passes through each of the zodiac signs every month. While your Sun sign represents your basic nature, your Moon sign represents your inner emotions and moods. It’s important to know this piece of your astrological puzzle because it determines elements of your personality such as your fears, instincts, and romantic compatibility.
When the Moon is in Capricorn
When the Moon moves into the conservative sign of Capricorn, we tend to be a little bit more cautious, a little more serious, and a little more grounded than we normally are. Capricorn is a sign that means business! Instead of being concerned with short-term satisfaction, you’ll be more inclined to dig in and focus on your long-term goals.
During the Capricorn Moon you might find that you have an increased desire for professional success. The good news is that this industrious Earth sign also gives you a shot of determination to achieve whatever it is you’ve set your sights on. Capricorn is a natural born leader so you may end up volunteering to head up a big project at work. You might also feel the urge to start looking at the next stage of your career and map out how you’ll get there.
New Moon in Capricorn
New Moons are always a time of new beginnings. Our calendar New Year begins with the Sun in Capricorn so the Capricorn New Moon is like the beginning of a brand new personal year. We think of it this way because it’s a time when we set our intentions for what we want in the year ahead. These goals become like a mountain, and that mountain becomes the object we set out to climb. Luckily, Capricorn has a determination that equips us with the patience, discipline, and persistence to reach the top.
Full Moon in Capricorn
Every Full Moon has us working to finish what we started around the time of the New Moon, but when the Full Moon is in Capricorn it works even harder to finish what was started at the beginning of the lunar cycle. You’ll ask yourself what you obtained, what you have yet to achieve, and what you need to adjust to make things happen. A Capricorn Full Moon is all about success and never taking “no” for an answer. So, this is the time when you’ll get to the finish line because this Moon will help you tackle any obstacles you face along the way.
During this time the Moon in Capricorn faces the Sun in Cancer. Both signs are associated with security, yet they seek it in different ways. Capricorn is concerned with accomplishments and external status while Cancer wants us to tune into our feelings in search of comfort and safety. It’s not a matter of choosing to be hard or soft, sensitive or insensitive; this Full Moon is about learning how to be tough or tender depending on the circumstances. When the lesson is learned, we feel at home within ourselves and within the world around us.
If you were born with the Moon in Capricorn
Capricorn is ruled by taskmaster Saturn so it’s no surprise that those with a Capricorn Moon like to set the bar high. It’s isn’t just their patience and ambition that gets them far in life, it’s also that they also have a sense of responsibility to do well. They take pride in how reliable they are in their personal and professional lives.
Someone with their Moon in Capricorn can appear rather detached, but there is a very loyal and loving layer beneath the serious image they project to the world. They may not always use their words to express how they feel about another person, but their actions speak volumes about how much they care. While it does take Lunar Capricorns awhile to open up, it’s worth the wait as they’re one of the most stable and committed signs in the zodiac.
Capricorn has a reputation for being cool, calm, and collected. This is because those with this natal Moon sign don’t allow their emotions to rule them. They view tough situations through a pragmatic lens, and find a way to rationally approach each problem they face. This ability gives those with a Capricorn Moon the strength to push through any of life’s adversities.
The Words of Confucius
You cannot open a book without learning something.