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Eclipse Notes - Six Days to Go

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Yesterday Louise and I played golf.  As we started the back nine, I noticed the last quarter Moon high in the western sky.  You can see the Moon in the morning sky before sunrise.  It will be visible in the morning sky and even in the afternoon for the next few days.  As it creeps closer to the Sun, it will be more difficult to find, a smaller crescent in the brightest part of the sky, near the Sun. 

On Thursday morning the waning crescent Moon will be above and to the right of a bright object in the pre-dawn sky, the planet Venus.  Look again on Friday morning and you will be able to gauge how far the Moon travels in it's orbit in one day.  The Moon will still be above and right of Venus but much closer on Friday Morning.  By Saturday morning, the Moon will be almost directly below Venus.  You would have to look very closely on Sunday morning to find the thin waning crescent Moon.  Not only will the Moon be just over 1 day's travel in it's orbit from the Sun, you would only be able to see it in the light of dawn if you had a near perfect eastern horizon.  Any hills, buildings or trees will block your view. 

On Monday, eclipse day, if you are in that narrow ribbon where the total eclipse will be seen, you should be able to find Venus to the west of the Sun.  Even those seeing a near total eclipse (partial eclipse) may be able to find Venus as the maximum eclipse occurs at their location.  If you know where to look, the planet Venus is visible in full daylight if it is far enough from the Sun in the sky.  If you can find the Moon during the day on Thursday you may be able to use it as a guide to viewing Venus during full daylight.

There will be another planet easily visible during the total eclipse.  That planet is the largest of the planets in our solar system, Jupiter.  Jupiter is visible in the evening just above the horizon in the western sky.  So Jupiter is east of the Sun.  During the Eclipse you should see Jupiter east of the eclipsed Sun.  Those with a deep partial eclipse may also notice Jupiter to the east of the Sun, not far away.  If you are looking for the planets during a partial eclipse.  Take off you eclipse glasses, block the sun with your hand, a piece of paper or another object.  Be sure to keep the Sun covered as you search the sky near the Sun for Venus and Jupiter.  Never look directly at the Sun without eclipse glasses.

We are camped on the high plains in Eastern Colorado.  Our weather has featured fairly frequent afternoon and evening storms.  This has been pretty consistent since we arrived on August 1.  Areas where we plan to go had thunderstorms early this morning.  The forecast for now seems to be improving for those areas (Casper, WY or Scottsbluff, NE).  As eclipse day approaches I'll be watching the weather, on my smart phone and tablet as well as on the weather channels (WEA - The Weather Channel and WN - Weather Now).  For the moment, we are planning on a car trip from our current location but if we have to travel further for clear skies we may leave the campground on Saturday or Sunday.  Given two days we could roam from western Oregon to eastern Missouri.  That is what I want, maximum mobility and the clearest skies I can find. 

I wish clear skies and good viewing to all.


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