EYES TO THE SKY March 18 – 31, 2019

The seasons result from the Earth’s rotational axis tilting 23.5 degrees out of perpendicular to the ecliptic – or Earth’s orbital plane
Everyday movements of the planets, stars, moon and Sun, through day and night, are “aha” moments when we remark the changes of the positions of celestial bodies in the sky and in relation to the horizon over time. That said, this week we will observe two milestones. 

On the 20th at 5:58pm the Sun arrives at vernal equinox, when sunrise is due east, sunset due west and there is equal day and night. Coincidentally, the moon reaches full phase a few hours later, at 9:43pm. Celebrate the astronomical arrival of spring and the Full Sap Moon by observing sundown and moonrise as day ends and night begins this Wednesday. Moonrise in the east is at 6:50pm opposite the sunset at 7:07pm. The moon may appear particularly large: it is at perigee – closest to Earth in its orbit.

Rise to the occasion next morning when sunrise is at 6:59am and the perigean moon sets opposite at 7:38am. Depending on the skyline at your location, i.e. obstructed or true horizon, Sun and moon may appear and disappear, respectively, at close to the same time. Take special note of the Sun’s position on the horizon at both sunset and sunrise so as to mark the cardinal points as a reference for observing our star rise further north of east and set further north of west everyday until summer solstice on June 21.

Considering that humans have monkeyed with the time of day to the effect that Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) is not time according to the Sun, we might as well enjoy being fooled. The dark of morning has returned, as sunrise is close to 7 o’clock EDT the week of the 18th, instead of 6am Eastern Standard Time (EST). Without the extra effort required to be outdoors before 5am, early dawn is around 5:45am the week of the 18th. See a wonderful string of morning stars and planets, along with the great Scorpion. Refer to the diagrams. Although Venus rises around 5:30 where there is a view to the horizon, the brilliant planet did not appear as a blazing beacon until after 6am at my best lookout to the east-southeast.

With spring, we are called upon to awaken to our role in caring for planet Earth. Stargazing brings enchantment and grounding to people of all ages around the world. The darker the sky, the deeper the experience. Dark skies are a natural resource that is being polluted and destroyed. The plight of New York’s and the nation’s skies depends on our voices. International Dark Sky
 Week is March 31 through April 7. 
 Please learn about actions you can take, small and large, at https://www.darksky.org/dark-sky-week-2019/ and https://www.globeatnight.org/
Opportunities to Participate
Judy Isacoff

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