Mapping the Moon

Moon Beam & LIghthouse by RJE

Moon Beam & Lighthouse by RJE

Earthsky reports that for the first time, the entire lunar surface has been completely mapped and uniformly classified by scientists from the USGS Astrogeology Science Center, in collaboration with NASA and the Lunar and Planetary Institute. There’s a video below too. They write:

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) announced the new Unified Geologic Map of the Moon on April 20, 2020. They said it shows the moon’s surface geology, with rock layers and craters charted “in great detail.” The map is a synthesis of six Apollo-era regional geologic maps, updated with data from more recent moon missions.

USGS said it’s designed to serve as “the definitive blueprint” for lunar science and future human missions to the moon, and to be used by the international scientific community, educators and the public at large.

To create the new digital map, scientists used information from six Apollo-era regional maps along with updated information from recent satellite missions to the moon.

The existing historical maps were redrawn to align them with the modern data sets, thus preserving previous observations and interpretations. Along with merging new and old data, USGS researchers also developed a unified description of the stratigraphy, or rock layers, of the moon. This resolved issues from previous maps where rock names, descriptions and ages were sometimes inconsistent.

Head over to Earthsky for more, and if you like astronomy, I really recommend subscribing to their newsletter!

Check out more stunning shots from RJE on Flickr.

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Lights in the Darkness

Detroit lit up in red white and blue to honor medical professionals, first responders, service workers

Detroit lit up in red white and blue by kare hav

Here’s an absolutely stunning photo from yesterday that’s the latest cover for the Michigan in Pictures Facebook page. It shows the city of Detroit from across the Detroit River as it lights up the night in red white and blue to honor medical professionals, first responders & service workers.

They definitely need all our support. The Detroit Metro Times reports that the Covid-19 pandemic is hitting Detroit harder than New York City:

In just the past three days, Detroit’s death toll nearly doubled, reaching 221 on Tuesday. During that period, the city averaged more than 3o deaths a day. And public health officials warn that the worst is yet to come.

Detroit has a rate of 32.9 coronavirus deaths per 100,000 people, compared to 21.2 deaths per 100,000 people in New York City. More than 5,500 Detroit residents have tested positive for COVID-19 — a nearly five-fold increase since March 27. With a severe shortage of testing kits, public health officials believe far many more Detroiters have been infected.

Mayor Mike Duggan has made it a priority to increase the city’s testing capacity. Frustrated by the slow pace of testing, Duggan led the creation of a regional site at the former Michigan State Fairgrounds at Eight Mile and Woodward, where he expects at least 14,000 people will be tested for COVID-19 over the next six weeks. During the first two days, 43% of the people who were tested were positive for the coronavirus. The city is also working with doctors who are willing to see patients who don’t have insurance.

“We’re going to make testing available to every single person in this city who needs [it],” Duggan said Thursday. “It is critical that every single Detroiter have access to this.”

Duggan said the city is now testing 800 people a day.

More than 150 Detroit Police Department employees, including Chief James Craig, have tested positive for COVID-19, and an additional 524 officers and police civilians were under quarantine, as of last week. At least 43 firefighters and medics also have confirmed infections, and more than 75 have been under quarantine.

Read the rest at the Metro Times & see more of Michigan’s largest city in Kare’s Detroit photo album.

Please feel welcome to share photos or info about ways your community is coming together to support medical & essential people in this dark time & please stay safe!!

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2019’s Biggest Supermoon Flies Tonight!

Super Moon Muskegon Michigan, photo by The Shutter Affair

EarthSky, which by the way is a fantastic website for anyone who wants to get more out of the night sky that’s in great need of your support, has this to say about tonight’s supermoon, which will be the largest of 2019:

This year’s February presents the biggest full moon supermoon of 2019. From around the world, the moon will look plenty full to the eye on both February 18 and February 19 as it parades across the nighttime sky. It reaches the crest of its full phase on February 19 for much of the world. What’s a supermoon? It’s a popularized term for what astronomers call a perigean full moon. In other words, it’s a full moon near perigee, or closest to Earth for this month. This February 2019 full moon reaches its exact full phase closer to the time of perigee than any other full moon this year. Hence the year’s closest supermoon.

Will you be able to discern with your eye that this full moon is larger than an ordinary full moon? Experienced observers say they can do it, but – for most of us – the difference is too small for the eye to notice.

…here are other factors that make a supermoon special. For example, if you look outside tonight – assuming your sky is clear – you might be able to discern with your eye that the landscape is more brightly lit than usual by moonlight. Supermoons are substantially brighter than ordinary full moons.

Also, the moon’s gravity affects earthly tides, and a supermoon – full moon closest to Earth – pulls harder on Earth’s oceans than an ordinary full moon. That’s why supermoons create higher-than usual tides, which tend to come a day or two after the full moon.

By the way, that bright star accompanying the February supermoon is none other than Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation Leo the Lion.

More at EarthSky & definitely consider helping to support EarthSky at helpsupportearthsky.org!

Julia took this photo of December of 2017 in Muskegon, Michigan. View it bigger, see more in her Lighthouse photo album, and also on her blog!

Much more about the Moon and about supermoons on Michigan in Pictures!

Lunar Eclipse coming January 20th!

October 8, 2014 Lunar Eclipse, photo by David Marvin

On Sunday night we have a chance to see the last total lunar eclipse until May 26, 2021! EarthSky shares information about viewing the lunar eclipse:

On January 20-21, we’ll have the first full moon of 2019, and the first lunar eclipse of 2019 (and this is an eclipse-heavy year, with three solar and two lunar eclipses). It can be viewed from North and South America, Greenland, Iceland, Europe, northern and western Africa, plus the Arctic region of the globe. More details – and eclipse times for North America, plus links for those elsewhere – below.

The eclipse will happen on the night of the year’s first of three straight full supermoons, meaning the moon will be nearly at its closest to Earth for this January, as the eclipse takes place.

The January 20-21 total eclipse of the moon lasts for somewhat more than one hour. It’s preceded and followed by a partial umbral eclipse, each time persisting for over an hour. The whole umbral eclipse from start to finish has a duration of nearly 3 1/3 hours.

Additionally, a penumbral lunar eclipse takes place before and after the umbral lunar eclipse. However, a penumbral lunar eclipse is so faint that many people won’t even notice it while it is happening. In our post, we only give the times of the moon passing through the Earth’s umbra – dark, cone-shaped shadow.

The lunar disk often exhibits a coppery color during a total lunar eclipse. Although the moon is completely immersed in the Earth’s dark shadow, the Earth’s atmosphere refracts (or bends) sunlight and the longer wavelengths of light (red and orange) pass onward to fall on the moon’s face. The dispersed light from all of the world’s sunrises and sunsets softly illuminates the totally eclipsed moon. Actually, if you were on the moon, looking back on Earth, you’d see a total eclipse of the sun.

They note that the partial umbral eclipse begins at (roughly) 10:34 PM with the total eclipse starting at 11:41 PM. The greatest eclipse is at 12:12 AM with the total eclipse ending at 12:43 AM.

David took this photo in October of 2014. Check it out background bigilicious on Flickr and head over to his Marvin’s Gardens blog for more pics from the eclipse & David!

Sunrise, Moonset

A Winter Morning and a Setting Moon, by TP Mann

He writes:

The moon was setting over this snowy hill on this cold crisp morning. Love the lines of the fences crossing and going up over the hill. A Pure Michigan​ winter scene found along the Breezeway.

Check out more from TP and The Breezeway​!

A wink from the Harvest Moon

With A Wink The Full Moon Sets Over Grand Haven, photo by David W Behrens

I watched the full harvest moon set this morning over the Leland Harbor among some clouds, and then saw this photo that David of David W. Behrens Photography shared from Grand Haven, Michigan. Click through to see more pics from David!

The full harvest moon rises tonight at 7:21 PM, so I figured that I would share a bit about the Harvest Moon from a past post on Michigan in Pictures:

EarthSky.org has a nice article about the Harvest Moon that explains that for all its mystique, the Harvest Moon is just an ordinary full moon:

Still, you might think the Harvest Moon looks bigger or brighter or more orange. That’s because the Harvest Moon has such a powerful mystique. Many people look for it shortly after sunset around the time of full moon. After sunset around any full moon, the moon will always be near the horizon. It’ll just have risen. It’s the location of the moon near the horizon that causes the Harvest Moon – or any full moon – to look big and orange in color.

The orange color of a moon near the horizon is a true physical effect. It stems from the fact that – when you look toward the horizon – you are looking through a greater thickness of Earth’s atmosphere than when you gaze up and overhead. The atmosphere scatters blue light – that’s why the sky looks blue. The greater thickness of atmosphere in the direction of a horizon scatters blue light most effectively, but it lets red light pass through to your eyes. So a moon near the horizon takes on a yellow or orange or reddish hue.

…The shorter-than-usual time between moonrises around the full Harvest Moon means no long period of darkness between sunset and moonrise for days in succession. In the days before tractor lights, the lamp of the Harvest Moon helped farmers to gather their crops, despite the diminishing daylight hours. As the sun’s light faded in the west, the moon would soon rise in the east to illuminate the fields throughout the night.

You can read on for more.

September’s Corn Moon is full tonight!

Reflections of the Moon, photo by TP Mann

Space.com’s article on September’s Full Corn Moon says in part:

Look up tonight (Sept. 6) to see the Full Corn Moon glowing in the sky. If you have binoculars or a telescope, you can also see the planet Neptune glowing faintly nearby.

The moon reached its fullest phase early this morning, at 3:02 a.m. EDT (0702 GMT), but it will still appear full to casual observers this evening. Look for it in the southern sky in the constellation of Aquarius, the Water Bearer.

Usually, the full moon in September is known as the Harvest Moon, but this year that name is reserved for October’s full moon. That’s because the Harvest Moon is the full moon that falls closest to the autumnal equinox, which occurs on Sept. 22 this year.

Check out the photo of the full moon over Torch Lake background bigtacular and see more in TP’s Night Shots slideshow.

Lots more about the moon on Michigan in Pictures.