ASTR 101 : Lunar Viewing (Lesson 5)

Continued from ASTR 101 : Buying a Telescope (Lesson 2).


I’m finished with my Charms homework. I can finally sit down to use my new telescope in peace, and practice Astronomy! The view from my window today looks magnificent, thanks partly to the clear sky, and partly to the fortunate location of the first years’ dorm up in the Ravenclaw Tower. It may not be as ideal as the terrace of Astronomy Tower, but this will do just fine for my date with the Moon tonight.

No matter if you’re a wizard or a muggle, the Moon will always fascinate you. That is why we cannot stop looking at it, even though it has been showing us the same face, unchanged for thousands of years. The Moon rotates around the Earth in a tidally locked synchronous manner, i.e. its near side is always facing the Earth.[4]

The assignments for the ASTR 101 course have been fun, so far, and I hope they continue to be so. There are mandatory assignments as well as extra-credit ones, and I have managed to do well in both, which makes me happy. But most of all, I have enjoyed the time we spent exploring the night sky with our magical telescopes.[1]

The Moon today (Thursday, 9 August 2018) is in a waning crescent phase. In this phase, the Moon’s illumination will grow smaller each day until the New Moon, which is three nights away. During this phase, the Moon is getting closer to the Sun as viewed from Earth and the night side of the Moon is facing the Earth with only a small edge of the Moon being illuminated. This phase is best viewed an hour or 2 before the sunrise and can be quite beautiful if one is willing to get up early, which I made sure I did. Actually, I did not sleep at all, out of excitement, and the Charms homework which kept me up until now. The waning crescent phase can also be a great time to see the features of the Moon’s surface. Along the edge where the illuminated portion meets the dark side, the craters and mountains cast long shadows making them easier to observe with a telescope.[2]

The magical albedo of the Moon right now is 0.12, which means the magical energy sent to the Earth from the Moon is waning too. Albedo is one of the five factors that determine the A.M.E. Quotient of an astronomical object. In case of the Moon, the Albedo is the only real variable that changes on a daily basis, over the course of 27.3 days that the Moon takes to go around the Earth. The other four variables- composition, observed size, interference,  and surface do not necessarily vary as much as albedo does, in the case of the Moon.[5]

Now that I had a look at the moon, which was not very much, considering the waning crescent phase, it is time to return the telescope back to its safe resting place. I’ll wait another fortnight until it is near the full Moon, to get another good look. I have to be careful to avoid the full Moon day, because it is harmful to both me and my telescope’s magical properties, to be viewing the full Moon through its lenses.[3]

Until next time, ciao.

References:
[1] Lesson 1, An Introduction
[2] Lesson 2, Magical Telescopes
[3] Lesson 3, Telescope Tips and Tricks
[4] Lesson 4, A.M.E. Quotient
[5] Lesson 5, A.M.E. in Depth

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