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Skywatch: The Earth reaches a milestone this week

Get ready for the aphelion!
Credit: The First Quarter Moon

We’ll start the week off with a First Quarter Moon early on Sunday. It’ll officially arrive at 4:16 a.m. If you’re up early look for the half-moon.

Credit: The Second Perigee this Month

The Moon’s orbit is not a perfect circle which means there are times when the moon is farther away (apogee) and times when it’s closer to the Earth (perigee). 

Our Moon will reach perigee at 10:13 p.m. on Monday evening when it’s 229,260 miles from the Earth. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal but this is the second lunar perigee of the month. 

We see 13 of them in a year so a doubling up is bound to happen. This year it’s in the month of June.

Credit: The Earth's Aphelion

Earth reaches a milestone the day the United States celebrates its birthday. Saturday is July 4th and it’s also the day Earth reaches something known as aphelion. 

I mentioned that the moon doesn’t have a perfectly circular orbit a minute ago. Neither does the Earth. At 7:35 a.m. Saturday morning the Earth with be 94,507,635 miles from the Sun, the farthest point from our home star. 

This happens during the hottest time of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere) underscoring the fact that Earth’s angle on its axis, not its distance from the Sun, is what drives the seasons.

Credit: The Full Buck Moon

While the Full Moon doesn’t officially arrive this week it’ll be here early on Sunday morning. That mean’s if you’re out celebrating on Saturday you can look up and catch it. 

This month’s Full Moon is known as the Full Buck Moon because that was the time of year a buck’s antlers were growing rapidly. 

It’s also known as the Full Thunder Moon. Happy hunting!