Wednesday, 18 March 2009

March moon action

Although the full-moon is a pretty special sight on a clear night, and Moonwalking will focus largely on the fullest phase of the synodic cycle, we mustn't forget the other phases. And this month we're in for a treat.

On March 27th, get your binoculars out and look towards sunset. Actually, let me write that a little more sensibly. Wait until the sun has sunk completely from the sky - give it about 40 minutes from sunset or you may find March 28th will appear more blurry than it should - and view the western horizon. About an hour and 40 minutes after sunset, a fingernail of new-ish moon will be visible. We're talking thinnest sliver. One per cent of the lunar sphere. Just 27 hours in age - at the slightest of phase angles from the sun to have her edge a tiny bit lit (or, to be more accurate, visible from Earth).

But as Patrick Moore points out time and time again in his Sky at Night "Planetarium" advice on the free CD-ROM that accompanied the March magazine, "Make quite sure that the sun is not in view as you might look at the sun by mistake. The sun must be completly gone; the slightest view of the sun showing and it's dangerous."

Listen to the man - he knows a thing or two about all that stuff above us.

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