Adrian Dening's Stars Over Somerset

    Monday 4th to Sunday 10th March 2024

    There's nothing particularly remarkable to recommend during the coming week, but on Sunday 10th March there is a New Moon. This phase of the Moon means that the Sun is illuminating the side that we can't see from the Earth and the side of the Moon facing us is completely shadowed.....or in other words, you won't see it!

    The Moon takes 27.3 days to orbit around the Earth and as sunlight hits it at different angles, then you see the different phases. After a New Moon it appears as a crescent shape, followed by a quarter, then a Gibbous Moon leading up to a Full Moon. Then everything works the other way around - it becomes a Gibbous Moon, back to a quarter, followed by a crescent and ending up with a New Moon again.

    If the phase is "waxing" it means getting brighter or heading towards a Full Moon. If the phase is "waning", that means getting dimmer or heading towards a New Moon.

    To add to the complexity, if you see a Full Moon and go back outside 27.3 days later, you won't see another one! You would have to wait 29.5 days because while all this has been going on, the Earth has travelled 1/12 of its yearly orbit around the Sun and so all the angles have changed! In ancient times, this 29.5 days was called a Lunar Month because it was what people actually observed.

    Finally, I am running the last of this winter's astronomy sessions at the Ham Hill Visitors Centre on Friday 8th March, starting at 7pm with a talk on general astronomy, followed by some star gazing if it's clear. There are still a handful of places available and booking is through the Visit South Somerset website.
    Screenshots courtesy of Stellarium
    Copyright Adrian Dening and Radio Ninesprings 2024

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