Thursday, April 6, 2017

Moon Slides Past Ruler

Our Moon will be near the brightest star in Leo tonight.  I said ruler in the title because the star's name in western catalogues is Regulus, kind of like regent or ruler.  This is a great observing event for people new to sky watching.

Here is a link to the wikipedia article showing Regulus just a tad above the ecliptic.  The head of the lion is like a backward question mark and Regulus is the point at the bottom.

By the time it gets good and dark tonight they will be visible in the eastern sky for northern hemisphere observers. 

If I could show an astrology chart for tonight's sky the Moon would be right near the squiggle symble for the north node, affectionately called Dragon's Head.  That tells us the Moon is in the part of its cycle where it crosses above the ecliptic.  It just so happens that the Moon's north node is right near the star Regulus during this spring. 

Moon won't actually reach the same longitude as Regulus until Atlantic Coast residents are just turning our planetary back to it.  Here in Raleigh we'll start saying "Goodnight Moon," around 3:45am.  

So while folks in the Central and Pacific time zones of U.S. will witness the actual line up, we will still have an excellent chance to gauge Moon's eastward crawl toward Regulus, as the bowl of sky turns westward.

I hope to be out tonight under fairly clear skies to see how the predicted passage looks in the real passing dark heaven.

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