The Witches Astronomy Journal for Wednesday, August 15th

The Witches Astronomy Journal for Wednesday, August 15th

On every full moon, rituals … take place on hilltops, beaches, in open fields and in ordinary houses. Writers, teachers, nurses, computer programmers, artists, lawyers, poets, plumbers, and auto mechanics — women and men from many backgrounds come together to celebrate the mysteries of the Triple Goddess of the Dance of Life. The religion they practice is called Witchcraft.


Custom Planetary Positions

August 15, 2018
Zodiac: Tropical (Standard Western)


Sun: 22 Leo 27
Moon: 15 Libra 53
Mercury: 12 Leo 23 Rx
Venus: 08 Libra 21
Mars: 29 Capricorn 37 Rx
Jupiter: 15 Scorpio 11
Saturn: 02 Capricorn 56 Rx
Uranus: 02 Taurus 32 Rx
Neptune: 15 Pisces 42 Rx
Pluto: 19 Capricorn 15 Rx

Your Daily Sun & Moon Data for Wednesday, August 15

The Sun
Sun Direction: ↑ 36.40° NE
Sun Altitude: -31.30°
Sun Distance: 94.150 million mi
Next Equinox: Sep 22, 2018 8:54 pm (Autumnal)
Sunrise Today: 6:10 am↑ 72° East
Sunset Today: 7:44 pm↑ 288° West
Length of Daylight: 13 hours, 33 minutes


The Moon
Moon Direction: ↑ 327.62° NNW
Moon Altitude: -51.14°
Moon Distance: 233007 mi
Next Full Moon: Aug 26, 20186:56 am
Next New Moon: Sep 9, 20181:01 pm
Next Moonrise: Today10:50 am
Current Moon Phase: Waxing Crescent
Illumination: 20.5%


Lunar Calendar
Moon Phase Tonight: Waxing Crescent
First Quarter: Aug 18, 2018 at 2:48 am
(Next Phase)
New Moon: Aug 11, 2018 at 4:57 am
(Previous Phase)


Astrology of Today – Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Today’s Moon:
The Moon is in Libra.
The Moon is waxing and in its Waxing Crescent phase.
We are in between a New Moon/Solar Eclipse which occurred on the 11th, and a First Quarter Moon which will happen on August 18th.

Mercury is retrograde for four more days (Mercury is retrograde from July 26-August 19).
Mars is retrograde (Mars is retrograde from June 26th to August 27th)—there are less than two weeks left of the Mars retrograde cycle.
Also retrograde: Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, and Chiron.

Moon in Libra

Creating order is the focus, not necessarily through tidying or organizing as was the case while the Moon was in Virgo, but rather through pleasing interactions with others and aesthetics in our environment. We tend to solve problems through diplomacy, and we are more able to put aside our own emotions in order to achieve the peace we crave. The tendency now is to avoid direct confrontations. Decisions do not come easily. Seeing both sides to any given situation is the main reason for hesitation. Fear of losing others’ approval is another.


The Moon in Libra generally favors the following activities: Relationship and partnership issues, activities involving teamwork and cooperation, activities that involve self-examination, activities related to beauty.

What’s in Store by the Stars:

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Moon spends the day in relationship-focused Libra, and we’re emotionally geared to seek out balance and harmony. We aim to be fair and compromising now, and we get help in the cooperation department through the Moon’s sextile to the Sun. Under this influence, it’s easier than usual to focus as we feel more purposeful and less divided. The Sun forms a trine to Vesta today, boosting our commitment to making improvements. We can find satisfying channels for directing our energies now, and we might enjoy increased focus or dedication to a pet project. Narrowing our focus makes sense now. The Sun forms a parallel to Mercury today, encouraging us to talk through and analyze problems, as well as sort our thoughts.

The sky this week for August 15 to 19

The Perseid meteor shower will be a sight to behold as it peaks this week under perfect conditions.
By Richard Talcott

Wednesday, August 15

Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner is living up to expectations, currently glowing between 8th and 9th magnitude among the background stars of Cassiopeia the Queen. To see it well, you’ll need to observe from a dark-sky site through a 4-inch or larger telescope. Although this region never sets from north of 30° north latitude, it climbs highest before dawn. Astroimagers should be sure to target the comet from now until Saturday morning as it passes slightly north of the photogenic Heart and Soul nebulae (IC 1805 and IC 1848, respectively).

Thursday, August 16

Mars reached its peak during the last week of July, but it remains a glorious sight this week. The Red Planet appears low in the southeast as darkness falls and grows more prominent as the evening wears on and it climbs higher. By 11 p.m. local daylight time, it stands about 25° high in the south against the backdrop of stars in southwestern Capricornus. The world shines at magnitude –2.5, making it the second-brightest point of light in the night sky after Venus. When viewed through a telescope, the planet’s ocher-colored disk spans 23″. The global dust storm that marred views at opposition appears to be waning, and patient observers should be able to spot some surface details.


Friday, August 17

Venus lies 46° east of the Sun today, its greatest elongation for this evening apparition. You might think the planet would likewise reach peak altitude today, but you’d be wrong — Venus stands only 7° high an hour after sunset. The problem is the ecliptic, the apparent path of the Sun across the sky that the planets follow closely, makes a shallow angle to the western horizon after the Sun goes down in late summer. How much difference does this make? Venus stood more than twice as high in early June when it was only 35° from the Sun. Still, the planet shows some distinct advantages over its late spring appearance. Not only is it brighter now, at magnitude –4.5, but it also looks more pleasing through a telescope. This evening, Venus’ disk spans 24″ and appears half-lit.

A nearly half-lit Moon lies just 7° to Jupiter’s upper left this evening. The two make an attractive pair from evening twilight until the planet sets shortly after 11 p.m. local daylight time.

Saturday, August 18

First Quarter Moon arrives at 3:49 a.m. EDT. Our satellite won’t rise until around 2 p.m. local daylight time, however, so observers in the Americas won’t see it precisely half-lit. As darkness falls this evening, the Moon appears 58 percent illuminated and resides some 10° to the upper right of the 1st-magnitude star Antares.

Sunday, August 19

Saturn reached its peak more than a month ago, when it appeared opposite the Sun in the sky, and our view of the ringed planet remains magnificent. It appears against the backdrop of northern Sagittarius, a region that climbs highest in the south around 9 p.m. local daylight time. Saturn continues to shine brightly, too, at magnitude 0.3. When viewed through a telescope, the planet’s 18″-diameter disk is surrounded by a dramatic ring system that spans 40″ and tilts 27° to our line of sight.


The Astronomy Magazine

In the Sky This Month for August 15 – August 21


The Moon rolls past one bright light after another this month, including the brilliant planets Venus, Jupiter, and Mars. At the same time, two of the signature star patterns of summer, Scorpius and Sagittarius, roll low across the south. Scorpius really does look like a scorpion, while the brightest stars of Sagittarius, which represents a centaur holding a bow and arrow, form a wide teapot.

August 15: Moon and Spica

Spica, the brightest star of Virgo, stands below the Moon this evening. They’re flanked by two bright planets. Jupiter, the giant of the solar system, is to the upper left, with Venus, the “evening star,” to the lower right.

August 16: Moon and Jupiter

Jupiter appears near the Moon tonight. The giant planet looks like a brilliant star to the lower left of the Moon. Zubenelgenubi, one of the brightest stars of Libra, is just a fraction of a degree below Jupiter.

August 17: More Moon and Jupiter

The bright star-like point of light to the lower right of the Moon tonight is Jupiter, the solar system’s largest planet. It is about 11 times Earth’s diameter, and more massive than all the other planets, moons, asteroids, and comets combined.

August 18: Moon and Antares

Look for bright orange Antares, the star at the heart of Scorpius, to the lower left of the Moon as darkness falls tonight. It will be to the lower right of the Moon tomorrow night.

August 19: North vs. South

Most of the action in the evening sky right now is in the south. The four brightest lights in the entire night sky are there — the Moon and the planets Venus, Jupiter, and Mars. So are the planet Saturn, and the bright stars Antares and Spica.

August 20: Moon and Saturn

The Moon slides past Saturn the next couple of nights. The giant planet looks like a bright star. It’s close to the lower left of the Moon tonight, and farther to the right of the Moon tomorrow night.

August 21: Sirius Rising

Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, is low in the east-southeast before sunrise. Also known as the Dog Star for its location in Canis Major, the big dog, it will climb into better view as the month progresses.


Your Daily Cosmic Calendar for August 15th

The cosmos may be requesting that you adjust problem-solving skills and strategic thinking in a very practical way as Pallas forms a potentially frictional, 150-degree liaison with distant Pluto (12:55am). The moon’s presence in Libra square to Pluto several hours later (6:52am) reinforces the need for honesty and clarity in primary partnerships. Golden opportunities for forward progress abound for many hours as two lunar and two solar alignments reveal the universe’s temporary positive mood-swing. Tune into the euphoria created as the sun trines investment-savvy Vesta (1:07pm), the moon makes a supportive, 60-degree rapport with the sun (1:23pm) and parallels Venus (4:49pm), and the sun parallels Mercury (8:08pm). Take advantage of what good fortune places in your path!


[Note to readers: All times are now calculated for Pacific Daylight Time. Be sure to adjust all times according to your own local time so the alignments noted above will be exact for your location.]


Copyright 2018 Mark Lerner & Great Bear Enterprises, Ltd.

Current Moon Phase for Wednesday, August 15th

Waxing Crescent

Illumination: 22%

Tomorow the Moon will be in a Waxing Crescent Phase. A Waxing Crescent is the first Phase after the New Moon and is a great time to see the features of the moon’s surface. During this phase the Moon can be seen in the wester sky after the sun dips below the horizon at sunset. The moon is close to the sun in the sky and mostly dark except for the right edge of the moon which becomes brighter as the days get closer to the next phase which is a First Quarter with a 50% illumination.


Phase: Waxing Crescent
Illumination: 22%
Moon Age: 4.57 days
Moon Angle: 0.53
Moon Distance: 378,517.51 km
Sun Angle: 0.53
Sun Distance: 151,496,487.73 km


Is the moon toxic to humans?

By EarthSky Voices

When the Apollo astronauts returned from the moon, the dust that clung to their spacesuits made their throats sore and their eyes water. Lunar dust is made of sharp, abrasive particles, but how toxic is it for humans?

When the Apollo astronauts returned from the moon, the dust that clung to their spacesuits made their throats sore and their eyes water. Lunar dust is made of sharp, abrasive and nasty particles, but how toxic is it for humans?

The “lunar hay fever,” as NASA astronaut Harrison Schmitt described it during 1972’s Apollo 17 mission, created symptoms in all 12 people who have stepped on the moon. From sneezing to nasal congestion, in some cases it took days for the reactions to fade. Inside the spacecraft, the dust smelled like burnt gunpowder.

The moon missions left an unanswered question of lunar exploration – one that could affect humanity’s next steps in the solar system: can lunar dust jeopardize human health?

An ambitious European Space Agency (ESA) research program with experts from around the planet is now addressing the issues related to lunar dust.

Kim Prisk, a pulmonary physiologist from the University of California with over 20 years of experience in human spaceflight, is one of the 12 scientists taking part in ESA’s research. Prisk said:

We don’t know how bad this dust is. It all comes down to an effort to estimate the degree of risk involved.

Lunar dust has silicate in it, a material commonly found on planetary bodies with volcanic activity. Miners on Earth suffer from inflamed and scarred lungs from inhaling silicate. On the moon, the dust is so abrasive that it ate away layers of spacesuit boots and destroyed the vacuum seals of Apollo sample containers.
Fine like powder, but sharp like glass. The low gravity of the moon, one sixth of what we have on Earth, allows tiny particles to stay suspended for longer and penetrate more deeply into the lung. Prisk explained:

Particles 50 times smaller than a human hair can hang around for months inside your lungs. The longer the particle stays, the greater the chance for toxic effects.

The potential damage from inhaling this dust is unknown but research shows that lunar soil simulants can destroy lung and brain cells after long-term exposure.

Down to the particle

On Earth, fine particles tend to smoothen over years of erosion by wind and water; lunar dust, however, is not round, but sharp and spiky.

In addition, the moon has no atmosphere and is constantly bombarded by radiation from the sun that causes the soil to become electrostatically charged.
This charge can be so strong that the dust levitates above the lunar surface, making it even more likely to get inside equipment and people’s lungs.

Dusty workplace

To test equipment and the behavior of lunar dust, ESA will be working with simulated moon dust mined from a volcanic region in Germany.

Working with the simulant is no easy feat. Erin Tranfield, biologist and expert in dust toxicity, said:

The rarity of the lunar glass-like material makes it a special kind of dust. We need to grind the source material but that means removing the sharp edges.

The lunar soil does have a bright side, explained science advisor Aidan Cowley.

You can heat it to produce bricks that can offer shelter for astronauts. Oxygen can be extracted from the soil to sustain human missions on the moon.

Bottom line: Can lunar dust jeopardize human health?



Members of the EarthSky community – including scientists, as well as science and nature writers from across the globe – weigh in on what’s important to them.

Published on EarthSky