Planets and Moon

Is it a plane? No, Just Venus

We’ve watched Venus hover over the treeline in Tisbury for weeks. This is a planet everyone can find, as long as you have a clear view of the western sky. Early in the evening Venus looks like an airplane coming in to land at the Martha’s Vineyard Airport.

Venus hugs close to the western sky and sets about an hour after sunset, so viewing is limited.

Partial Solar Eclipse

There is a slight possibility Vineyarders can see a partial eclipse of the sun on Sunday morning at sunrise. Anything less than a clear sky will be a spoiler, though. Sunrise is at 6:15 a.m., take note the clocks turn back that morning. 

A solar eclipse is a rare event. For those in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and in parts of West Africa they’ll see the eclipse in full. It will be short and spectacular.

But on the Vineyard, we get the tail end of the show. The rising sun will look like someone took a big bite out of it. 

Moon and Jupiter

Late tonight there is a pairing up of the gibbous moon and Jupiter, the solar system’s largest planet. The two will rise in the east together before 11 p.m. The two are in the zodiacal constellation Gemini.

By midnight, Jupiter and the moon will be high in the east. By dawn tomorrow morning, they will be high in the west.

Tomorrow night offers another view, however the moon is slowly moving east and the two will be farther apart. On Sunday night, the moon is in the last quarter phase and not far from the red planet Mars.    

Pumpkin Moon

The Friday night full moon is called the Pumpkin Moon and it is in the zodiacal constellation Pisces. The moon will dominate evening skies through the coming weekend.

As the full moon climbs higher in the eastern sky in the evenings, it will be followed by the zodiacal constellation Taurus.

Autumn Begins

Fall officially arrives on Sunday at 4:44 p.m. Daylight is becoming a precious commodity.

Already maple trees are changing their colors and Virginia creeper is turning brilliant red.

Stars overhead have changed significantly from summer. The Milky Way, a long ribbon of billions of stars, now rises in the northeast, moving high across our western sky and setting in the southwest.

After Sunset

Our evening skies are filled with three celestial objects in the west this coming week: the Moon, Saturn and Venus. Every night is different.

A thin crescent moon will appear right next to the brilliant planet Venus on Sunday night, not long after sunset. It shouldn’t be missed, as the two are quite close. Both are in the zodiacal constellation Libra.

If you miss this opportunity, look again Monday night for the moon to appear higher in the west, and near the bright planet Saturn.

Morning Moon and Planets

For those who rise early tomorrow morning there is a pretty scene over the eastern sky, an hour or more before sunrise. A thin crescent moon appears right next to the bright planet Jupiter. The two are in the zodiacal constellation Gemini.

On Sunday morning the moon is closer to the horizon and above the red planet Mars. On Monday morning the moon is a thinner crescent and underneath Mars. Both are in the zodiacal constellation Cancer.

Mars and Jupiter are distinctly different in brightness. Jupiter is the far brighter, while Mars is a dull red.

Stars of Late Summer

Tonight’s gibbous moon appears in the zodiacal constellation Pisces. The moon spends the weekend moving through this large constellation, a constellation that depicts two fish swimming.

Pisces is a constellation we associate with late summer and fall. Early in the evening Pisces rises in the east. While it is one of the largest constellations in the zodiac, the stars that reside within it are not as bright or as distinguishable as other more popular constellations.

Moon and the Tide

The moon appears low in the south in our evening skies this weekend. The gibbous moon spends the weekend going through the zodiacal constellation Sagittarius, the southern-most constellation in the zodiac. For those walking along the Island’s south shore, the moon will be an especially impressive sight, so close to the water and to the horizon.

The moon will appear higher in the coming week as it moves farther along the zodiac, passing into the constellation Capricornus. The moon will be full Tuesday through Wednesday. The August full moon is referred to as the Sailor’s Moon.

Moon and Planets

A thin crescent moon appears under the bright planet Venus tonight. Take a look about a half hour after sunset. The two appear just above the glow of where the sun has set and it is a pretty scene.

More and more observers will see the crescent moon in the nights ahead when it is higher in the sky. The moon is to the left of Venus tomorrow night. Both are about the same height above the horizon.

The western sky gets prettier on Sunday night when the moon is even higher in the southwestern sky, but it is also close to the ringed-planet Saturn.

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