Supermoon, Super Cool Planets Above Oregon Coast, Portland

Published 10/14/2015 at 5:02 PM PDT - Updated 10/14/2015 at 5:42 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

(Oregon Coast) – Updated: More interplanetary pleasures for the Oregon coast, for Portland and indeed all of Oregon. Mercury, Mars and Venus are putting on quite the dance in the morning skies, while another Supermoon comes this way late in the month.

Jim Todd, astronomy expert with Portland's OMSI, said the morning dances of the planets is happening now.

Even more happens on October 17 and 18. Mars will shine less than a half degree from Jupiter, and with a magnitude -4.4 Venus will be a mere 7 degrees to the upper right. The 23rd of the month finds Mars and Venus 4.5 degrees apart with Jupiter midway between.

Todd said they can easily be seen through a small telescope at the same time.

“Meanwhile, the planet Mercury just reached greatest western elongation of 18.1 degrees from the Sun on October 11th,” Todd said. “This is the best time to view Mercury since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the morning sky. Look for the planet low in the eastern sky just before sunrise.”

Still more on October 26 with a conjunction of Venus and Jupiter. The two bright planets will be visible within 1 degree of each other in the early morning sky. Look to the east just before sunrise for this impressive planetary pair.

Then comes another Supermoon, after last month already having yielded one such wonder that was paired with an eclipse and a blood moon. The new Supermoon arrives on the scene on October 27th.

“The Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be fully illuminated,” Todd said. “This phase occurs at 5:05 p.m. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Hunters Moon because at this time of year the leaves are falling and the game is fat and ready to hunt.”

Todd said this is also the last of three supermoons for 2015. At a distance of 221,307 miles from earth, the Moon will be at its closest approach (perigee) to the Earth and may look slightly larger and brighter than usual. The moon rises at 6:39 p.m. in the eastern skies. By just before 2 a.m. it is facing due south and then it sets at 9:01 a.m. in the west.

Then comes a delightful three-planet conjunction on the morning of October 28. Venus, Mars and Jupiter will actually form a triangle in the skies. Jupiter and Venus will be a mere one degree apart, while Mars will be a few degrees to the east.

Todd said you'll find this spectacular sky show in the east just before sunrise.

Currently, sunrise is about 7:35 a.m., Todd said. Twilight begins at 6 a.m. Todd said the best time for viewing is between 5 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. You won't need binoculars or a telescope, Todd said, but it does enhance the enjoyment to see more details of the planets.

For more information, visit Starry Night Live! in OMSI’s Kendall Planetarium in Portland.

You can see these anywhere in Oregon, either on the coast or within the brighter confines of a city. Weather will be the big factor, of course. For those on the Oregon coast, using a tripod-based camera to photograph the moon reflecting on the ocean water can be especially astounding. (Above: starry skies over the north Oregon coast at Manzanita).



 

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