Extreme Tides

Tides will run higher and lower than normal this weekend and well into next week and it is tied mostly to two astronomical events. The moon is full on Monday, and it will be especially close, in perigee, on Sunday.

The gravitational pull of both the moon and sun create our tides. When the moon is particularly close, tidal pull is more extreme so tides run higher and lower than normal.

We had the same thing happen only a month ago, but slightly more extreme. Last month full moon and perigee were on the same day.

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Crescent Moon

The crescent moon hugs close to the southwestern sky tonight. The moon is in the zodiacal constellation Leo and will be entering into the zodiacal constellation Virgo tomorrow night.

On Monday, the moon is first quarter and appears near Spica, the brightest star in Virgo. On Tuesday night, the moon approaches the bright planet Saturn.

Saturn

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Moon, Venus and Menemsha

A thin crescent moon next to the bright planet Venus will appear above the horizon right after sunset on Wednesday. If the weather is fair, one of the best spots on the Vineyard will likely be Menemsha after the sunset.

Menemsha is the ideal spot to watch as it offers an unencumbered view of the western horizon. There are other places around the Vineyard, such as West Chop, Cape Pogue lighthouse and even the Gay Head light.    

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Venus and Fireworks

While many people out on the Fourth of July will be waiting for the first rocket and loud boom that makes up the fireworks display, it might also be a time to look to the west for a brilliant planet, Venus, the brightest planet in our west northwest evening sky.

Venus will be hugging close to the western sky right after sunset, at about the same place as the sun has set. The planet is tough to spot for many. If the sky is clear, those with a view of the western sky will see it.

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Wet June

We had a wet spring. June has been extremely wet and we are still nine days from the last day of the month. As of Tuesday, the Vineyard received 5.98 inches of rainfall in the first 18 days of the month. Rainfall is measured at the National Weather Service cooperative station in Edgartown.

Since June arrived, the Vineyard has received measurable rainfall on 13 of those 18 days. We’ve had three June days when more than an inch of rain fell.

February remains the wettest month of the year, so far, with 6.63 inches of precipitation.

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Planets and the Moon

The planets Venus and Mercury are close buddies this week but they part company later in the month.
    
Venus is easiest to spot, low in the southwestern sky after sunset. Venus is brilliant and above the horizon, amid the light of twilight.

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Planetary Lineup

Three planets form a line in the early evening this weekend but the alignment won’t last. Mercury, Venus and Jupiter are close together low in the southwestern sky, visible less than an hour after sunset. The view is short, as they set quickly as twilight turns into night.

Venus and Jupiter are the easiest to spot, with Venus being the brightest. Venus is so bright it looks like an airplane coming in with landing lights on. Jupiter appears right underneath and it, too, is bright but not nearly as brilliant.

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Stars and Planets, Moon and Tides

The moon passes by two brilliant stars this weekend. After sunset, the first quarter moon appears high in the sky tonight, near the bright star Regulus. Regulus is the principal star in the zodiacal constellation Leo.

On Sunday night, the gibbous moon appears farther east, close to Spica, the principal star in the zodiacal constellation Virgo.

Spica is distant and light reaches us after a 262 year journey. Regulus is a good deal closer at 77 light years away.

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Planetary Alignment

A planetary lineup takes place right after sunset later this month. Three readily visible planets, Venus, Jupiter and Mercury will hug the western horizon early in the evening each night over the Memorial Day weekend. But the elements of the lineup can be seen now, and in the nights ahead Vineyarders can watch two planets come together.

Tomorrow night, about an hour after sunset, look toward the west. A thin crescent moon appears beneath the brilliant planet Jupiter and above Venus. The three are in the zodiacal constellation Taurus.

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Dance of Two Planets

Venus has staged a comeback. The brightest planet in our night skies appears low in the southwestern sky, close to the horizon, just after sunset. Last year Venus was mostly a morning planet.

Jupiter is higher in the western sky, visible at twilight and easier to see. But soon the two planets will change places.

In the weeks ahead Jupiter and Venus will appear closer together in the western sky. By the end of May they will be side by side. Since they are the brightest visible planets, the changing positions will be hard to miss.

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