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The overall mission statement of this blog is to share many unique topics of this blogger's interest. Topics include (but are not limited to): Southern Cultural Heritage, Local History of the South Carolina Upstate, Confederate Heritage Preservation & Awareness, Americana, Nature & Wildlife Preservation, Science & Science Fiction, Astronomy & Night Sky Photography, Literacy & Writing, Travel & Local Places Of Interest, Southern Cuisine, Popular Culture & Philosophy, Classic Animation Nostalgia, Fandom ....as well as various other topics explained from the blogger's point of view. The following website contains the UNCENSORED thoughts and opinions of a Southern-born country writer from upstate South Carolina - the living, beating heart of the great American Southland!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Planetary Photography - 05-21/22-2016 - Blue Moon & Bright Mars

Threatening storm clouds almost prevented me from getting some really good shots of the beautiful planetary events this weekend. Thankfully breaks in the cloud cover allowed me to get some outstanding photos after dusk both days.

The first one on Saturday, May 21st, was a great shot of the Blue Moon with the bright red Mars one day away from opposition

A Blue Moon does not mean that the moon itself turns blue in color. The term itself has two meanings. 

The first - and most popular in recent years - has been the second of two full moons in the same calendar month. 

The second - which more accurately fits the Blue Moon of May 21st - refers to the third full moon in a season that has four full moons. This kind of Blue Moon occurs about once every 2.7 years.
The older meaning defines a Blue Moon as the third full moon in a season that has four full moons. This kind of Blue Moon occurs about every 2.7 years. - See more at: http://www.space.com/15455-blue-moon.html#sthash.tNx6H5kl.dpuf
The older meaning defines a Blue Moon as the third full moon in a season that has four full moons. This kind of Blue Moon occurs about every 2.7 years. - See more at: http://www.space.com/15455-blue-moon.html#sthash.tNx6H5kl.dpuf
The older meaning defines a Blue Moon as the third full moon in a season that has four full moons. This kind of Blue Moon occurs about every 2.7 years. - See more at: http://www.space.com/15455-blue-moon.html#sthash.tNx6H5kl.dpuf

The Blue Moon of Saturday, May 21st rose just after 8:50 PM with the bright red planet Mars close beside it. An absolutely beautiful meeting in the heavens appeared in the eastern sky between threatening storm clouds just after dusk. 



On Sunday, May 22nd, Mars reached its opposition in Earth's night sky for the first time in over two years. It's the brightest that the Red Planet has appeared so brightly in the sky in just over 10 years because the Earth has passed between it and the sun in our smaller orbit. Hence the term: opposition

Martian oppositions are not the same. This is because Mars has an oblong orbit that carries the Red Planet about 26 million miles closer to the sun at perihelion (the nearest point in its orbit) than when it swings out to aphelion (the farthest point). Extra-close oppositions only occur when we go between Mars and the sun around the time Mars is closest to the sun along it's orbit. This year, Mars is closer to Earth than it has been since the opposition of November 7, 2005. Super-close oppositions of Mars only occur in periods of 15 to 17 year intervals. The last super-close Martian opposition happened on August 28, 2003, and the next one will not occur until July 27, 2018.

This year's Martian opposition puts the Red Planet at a distance of just under 47 million miles from Earth. Mars will be the closest in orbit with Earth on May 30th of this month when it will pass within 46 million miles. 


The following is the shot I managed to get of Mars in opposition just after moonrise. Little Saturn (by distance rather than actual size) can also be seen just above the treeline between Luna and the bright shinning red Mars

God willing if the late spring weather holds out and keeps the night showers and thunderstorms at bay, I will try to get a photo of Mars when it reaches its closest point to Earth at the end of the month.

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