Smallest Moon of the Year

Richard

Remember a couple weeks ago, March 19th, 2011, and all the hype about a big Full Moon? If you paid attention to the science, you learned (or already knew) that the Moon orbits Earth in a slightly elliptical orbit. This means that during every lunar cycle (slightly less than a month in length) the Moon will at some point experience a perigee (closest approach to the Earth), and at some point the Moon will experience an apogee (farthest distance from the Earth). Lunar perigee for March just happened to coincide with the Full Moon, giving a a slightly larger appearing Full Moon than usual.

Unfortunately, few people in Utah saw that ‘giant’ Moon due to cloudy skies. Well, this coming weekend is another chance to…not see the Moon during a once-a-year event. The farthest lunar apogee, when the Moon will appear its smallest for the year, occurs on Saturday, April 2nd, 2011.

farthest apogee of 2011

farthest apogee of 2011

Why won’t we be able to see it? This apogee happens to coincide with the New Moon (April 3rd, 2011, 4:32 am MDT), meaning that Moon on the 2nd will be rising and setting with the Sun.
Moonrise is about 6 am; Sunrise is about 6:45 am.
Moonset is about 6:50 pm; Sunset is about 7:25 pm.

new moon

new moon

Oh well, with no Moon in the night sky, it will be a good evening to look for Saturn. Saturn rises a few minutes before 8 pm almost due east, is due south shortly after 1:30 am, and sets about 7:30 am due west. Saturn is a bright magnitude +0, and will be 10 degrees west of the bright +1 magnitude star Spica, in the constellation Virgo, along the ecliptic.

Saturn

Saturn

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