LOOKING UP – News – News Eagle – Hawley, PA

Q. When does the Man of the Moon most closely resemble George Washington?

A. In "quarter" phase.

The moon reaches the first quarter on Saturday, August 18. Watch this week as the moon swells, in the Waxing Gibbous phase on its way to fullness on August 26th.

I can not remember my first quarter though it was probably the tooth fairy. Hopefully I have even done a quarter of it as a child. I will never tell you!

The moon in the first quarter can be compared with the capital letter "D", a semicircle, with the right side on the left. This assumes that you are looking from the northern hemisphere. It may be strange to visualize, but under the equator, both the orientation of the moon and the constellations are reversed exactly!

I've thought about why they do not call it "half moon" since half the moon shines, not just a quarter. The "quarter" part means that the moon has been moved around the earth for a quarter of an hour in its monthly orbit.

If you even have a small telescope, or good binoculars on a stable tripod or other support, this is an excellent time to see the moon craters and mountainous areas. The boundary between the illuminated part of the moon and the dark side is known as the terminator and the sunlight casts shadows in and around the carters and behind each moon mountain. As a result, the lunar surface appears to stand out in bold relief.

You can view the ever-changing array of the terminator as the moon moves through the phases, from crescent to quail to gibbous, and reveals whole new areas with stunning detail. [19659002] Earthshine, the faint glow of the darkened part of the moon caused by the reflection of the earth, can still be seen in the fourth phase if you look with a telescope and keep the bright part out of sight of your eyepiece.

First Quarter Moon starts around midnight (1 hour of daylight saving time). Depending on your latitude and time of year, the orientation of the moon when approaching the horizon makes it look like an upright cereal bin seen from the side.

Full moon presents his face in bright sunshine and seems watered down. Yet the Full Moon has its own unique beauty and reveals other aspects of the interplay of light and darkness over the Moon. Rays of certain craters such as Tycho spread over the moon plane and are best seen when the moon is full or almost.

After full moon you can view the entire changing screen in reverse while the moon goes through its descending phases the way past Last Quarter to New Moon.

Interestingly, more than half of the Moon is visible to us; in fact, 59% of the moon can be seen from the earth, but not at the same time. What is referred to as libration, the moon nods lightly as it moves in its orbit, giving a glance to the other side.

Only 27 men have ever seen the back: the Apollo astronauts who turned the moon around nine missions between 1968 and 1972 (seven landing missions). Maybe astronauts will see it again in not so many years.

Why do we see only one side? Locked in a gravitational balance, the moon rotates once for every time it handles the earth, always keeping the same time to the planet. This is called "synchronous rotation".

It is incorrect to refer to the other side of the moon as the "dark side" unless you mean when the moon is in full phase. Only at that moment is the "back" of the moon completely away from the sunlight.

Enjoy the passage of the moon, the trusted and constant companion of the earth, and as a friend of the earthlings who have seen it with childishness throughout their lives.

Keep looking up!

Peter Becker is chief editor at The News Eagle in Hawley, PA. Comments are welcome at [email protected]. State in which newspaper or website you read this column.

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