Moon drops in on Venus, Saturn before Tuesday’s solar eclipse

This map shows the sky facing southeast about an hour before sunrise. The lunar crescent stops near Venus Sunday morning the 11th and newly-emerging Saturn on Monday. Maps created with Stellarium

The moon’s on a tight schedule. So many places, so little time. It glides past Venus Sunday morning and a day later appears along a new morning planet, Saturn. Then on Tuesday – Weds. the new moon passes squarely in front of the sun for residents of northern Australia and several small islands in the Pacific for a solar eclipse appointment.

Venus and the moon at 9 a.m. local time with the sun well up in the southeastern sky.

Viewing the lunar crescent and Venus will be easy since both are bright and conveniently placed for viewing in morning twilight. For fun, see how long you can keep Venus in view after sunrise using the moon as a guide. If your sky is haze-free, I’m going to bet you’ll see it easily many minutes or even hours later. Let us know how you do.

The Saturn-moon conjunction Monday morning will be trickier, but worth the effort. Not only will you see the return of the ringed planet to the dawn sky but also a super-thin crescent. You’ll need a wide-open horizon to the east-southeast, since the pair will only be about 5 degrees high (about three fingers held together at arm’s length) an hour before sunrise. Bring binoculars as a back-up.

Anyone within the blue band will see a total solar eclipse Tuesday. Red marks the centerline of the eclipse. Cairns will get 2 minutes of totality. Maximum of 4 minutes happens over the South Pacific. Credit: NASA

On Nov. 14 about 6:30 a.m. Australian Eastern Standard time (4:30 p.m. CST Nov. 13) the moon will totally eclipse the sun during the early morning hours for lucky sky watchers in northern Australia.

The moon’s shadow first touches ground at sunrise in the wilds of the Northern Territory and tracks east at over a 1000 mph reaching the city of Cairns in Queensland with a population of about 150,000 at 6:39 a.m. local time.

Total solar eclipse south of Japan on July 22, 2009. The photographer caught the “diamond ring effect”, when the last bit of sunlight shines between mountains along the limb of the moon just before totality. Credit: AP Photo/Kyodo News, Akiko Matsushita

From there, totality races across the Coral Sea and South Pacific before wrapping up at sunset west of the Chilean coast. A much larger region including all of Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and southern South America will see varying degrees of partial eclipse.

From the northern hemisphere’s perspective, the moon misses the sun, passing to its south. Sorry, no eclipse. We’ll have to wait until August 21, 2017 for the next total solar eclipse. Click HERE for more details and times to watch Wednesday’s event down under.

Can’t afford a trip to Australia at the moment? Watch it instead via webcam. Here are some cams to check out when the time is nigh:

* University of North Dakota SEMS U-Stream
* Gorge Creek Orchards, Mareeba, North Australia
* Total solar eclipse carried by NASA
* Total solar eclipse from Oak Beech near Cairns, Queensland

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About astrobob

My name is Bob King and I work at the Duluth News Tribune in Duluth, Minn. as a photographer and photo editor. I'm also an amateur astronomer and have been keen on the sky since age 11. My modest credentials include membership in the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) where I'm a regular contributor, International Meteorite Collectors Assn. and Arrowhead Astronomical Society. I also teach community education astronomy classes at our local planetarium.

One thought on “Moon drops in on Venus, Saturn before Tuesday’s solar eclipse

  1. Thanx for the solar eclipse broadcast links!
    How lucky are we Earthlings to have a relatively big moon with about same mean apparent size as the Sun. Our solar eclipses are rare but spectacular. Let’s compare them with the poor moon transits observed by the Mars rovers :D

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