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 6
Meteors, Planes, and a Galaxy over Bryce Canyon
Image Credit & Copyright: Dave Lane
Explanation: Sometimes land and sky are both busy and beautiful. The landscape pictured in the foreground encompasses Bryce Canyon in Utah, USA, famous for its many interesting rock structures eroded over millions of years. The featured skyscape, photogenic in its own right, encompasses the arching central disk of our Milky Way Galaxy, the short streaks of three passing planes near the horizon, at least four long streaks that are likely Eta Aquariid meteors, and many stars including the three bright stars that make up the Summer Triangle. The featured image is a digital panorama created from 12 smaller images during this date in 2014. Recurring every year, yesterday and tonight mark the peak of this year’s Eta Aquriids meteor shower, where a patient observer with dark skies and dark-adapted eyes might expect to see a meteor every few minutes.
Arc to Arcturus, spike to Spica
Tonight, look outside in the evening and learn a phrase useful to sky watchers. The phrase is: follow the arc to Arcturus, and drive a spike (or speed on) to Spica. You can use this phrase in any year.
First locate the Big Dipper asterism in the northeastern sky. Then draw an imaginary line following the curve in the Dipper’s handle until you come to a bright orange star. This star is Arcturus in the constellation Bootes, known in skylore as the bear guard.
Arcturus is a giant star with an estimated distance of 37 light-years. It’s special because it’s not moving with the general stream of stars, in the flat disk of the Milky Way galaxy. Instead, Arcturus is cutting perpendicularly through the galaxy’s disk at a tremendous rate of speed … some 100 miles (150 km) per second. Millions of years from now this star will be lost from the view of any future inhabitants of Earth, or at least those who are earthbound and looking with the eye alone.
Now drive a spike or, as some say, speed on to Spica in the constellation Virgo.
Spica in the constellation Virgo looks like one star, but this single point of light is really a multiple star system – with two hot stars orbiting very close together – located an estimated distance of 262 light-years away from Earth.
Bottom line: Follow the arc to Arcturus, and drive a spike to Spica.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. “Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers,” she says.
Published on EarthSky
Before we talk specifically about the Moon in Aquarius, let’s first talk about the Moon for a moment. Astrologers consider the Moon a planet, and because it moves so quickly it passes through each of the 12 zodiac signs once every month. Just as the Sun has a placement in our birth chart, so does the Moon.
When the Moon is in Aquarius
Regardless of what your sign is, for a couple of days each month we all get drawn into the influence of the Aquarius Moon. This is the time when we’re more inclined to march to the beat of our own drum. Aquarius is anything but cookie-cutter, and this lunation will have us trying to figure out what it is that makes us unique so that we can share it with the world.
Aquarians are social butterflies, making friends and influencing people wherever they go. This isn’t surprising considering Aquarius rules the 11th House of Friendships! When the Moon moves into this gregarious sign, you’ll feel the urge to call your friends, make plans, and get out and interact with those around you.
The Aquarius Moon could also have you feeling a little but more rebellious and spontaneous than usual. You may crave freedom and a distraction from your everyday life. If you’ve been feeling stuck in a rut, this is when you’ll decide to change up your routine or break old habits.
New Moon in Aquarius
New Moons are times of new emotional cycles and planting seeds for whatever we want to come next. The futuristic Aquarius New Moon encourages us to cut our past loose, or at least some of the things that we’re still hung up on. Aquarius is cool and detached, ideal for making a clean break from things that are no longer serving us so that we can boldly step into the next phase of our lives.
Our innovative spirit is off the charts with the New Moon in unconventional Aquarius! When the Sun and Moon team up in this brainy sign, we have a greater ability to expand our perceptions and come up with bright ideas. Aquarius sometimes dreams up concepts so far ahead of its time that they cannot be applied to current circumstances. However, the New Moon helps put us in touch with reality so that we can bring these groundbreaking insights back down to earth.
Full Moon in Aquarius
This Full Moon occurs when the cooperative Aquarius Moon opposes the individualistic Leo Sun. This cosmic coupling allows us see the difference between satisfying ourselves (Leo) and collaborating with others (Aquarius), and helps us understand the relationship between teamwork and individuality. The community-conscious Aquarius Full Moon reminds us that we are part of something larger than ourselves, and that acting on our ideas and ideals will benefit everyone.
You’ll probably wonder where your invitation is because it’s always a party when the Full Moon is in Aquarius! Full Moons spark an increase in activity and energy, and Aquarius is one of the most outgoing signs in the zodiac. You’ll be more apt to let your hair down and have a good time during this fun-loving Full Moon.
If you were born with the Moon in Aquarius
The Moon in Aquarius is an oddity because the Moon is about our gut instincts, our moods, and how we respond to things emotionally. The paradox here is that Aquarius is an Air sign which means it’s more concerned with mental functions than the messiness of human emotion. This doesn’t mean those with their natal Moon in Aquarius don’t have feelings. Rather, their feelings are more conceptual and intellectual.
Lunar Aquarians are incredibly observant people. Their minds are always on alert, constantly trying to figure out why people do the things that they do. This curiosity extends to other areas of life, and they enjoy learning about science, mechanics, and technology. They love to know how things work — you might even find them taking things apart and putting them back together!
Aquarius Moon sign people are natural humanitarians and are often involved in philanthropic causes of some kind. They are egalitarians at heart, and have strong beliefs about the welfare of others and human rights. Don’t let the Water-bearer’s aloof exterior fool you. Lunar Aquarians are passionate about helping others, and simply remain objective in an effort to avoid getting caught up in emotionally turbulent situations.
The Wisdom of Buddha
All wrong-doing arises because of mind. If mind is transformed can wrong-doing remain?