Skywatch: With a dark moon, look for the Milky Way


We’ll start the week with a waning crescent moon that may seem a little smaller than normal. That’s because the Moon will reach apogee on Sunday evening at 9:10 p.m. A lot of people think the Moon has a circular orbit but it’s actually an ellipse. As a result, there are times when the Moon is closer to the Earth and times when it’s farther away from it. The apogee is when it’s at its farthest point from us. Earlier this month, the Moon’s perigee (when it’s closest to Earth) coincided with the Full Moon which is why we called it a Supermoon (see Skywatch from two weeks ago). In fact, it was the closest perigee of the year. At about 252,565 miles away, this month will see the farthest apogee of the year.

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If you’re out early on Monday morning enjoying the crescent moon, look for Mercury and Saturn. The two will shine just to the right of the moon in the southeastern sky about an hour before sunrise. Find a spot where you have a clear view of the horizon if you want to see the three of them.

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The New Moon officially arrives this week at 9:17 p.m. on Tuesday night. That means when the clouds clear out, we’ll have great stargazing conditions due to the lack of light pollution.

Courtesy: NASA
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That’s good news if you want to gaze into the heart of our galaxy, the Milky Way. It’s believed that the Milky Way is home to 100 to 400 billion stars. Look for a streak of light across the night sky to find it. Your chances of seeing it improve as you move away from the city lights. Happy hunting!