2. Moon just grazes by Jupiter early on 15 July: A Close Shave: Not Wallace & Gromit, but a very near miss with the waning crescent moon. The following details apply to Belfast: from further South the miss will be even closer. All these figures are from the edge of the Moon to the edge of Jupiter, not centre to centre.
At 03.00, Jupiter will be 7 degrees above the ENE horizon, with the bright limb of the crescent Moon only 2' 13" away. As they both rise higher in the sky, the Moon will gradually slide past below Jupiter, with the separation gradually decreasing: at 03.05 it will be only 1' 39", and at closest approach at 03.09 it will be just 1' 30" away. That's less than three Jupiter diameters, and closer to Jupiter than Europa, Ganymede and Callisto at the time!
At closest approach Jupiter plus its four bright moons will be strung out in a line parallel to the edge of the 'horn' of the crescent, plus the continuation along the 'dark' edge of the Moon which will be quite brightly lit by Earthshine (the light reflected from the Earth onto the Moon, commonly known as 'the old moon in the new moon's arms'). With N at the top, the order from L-R is: Callisto, Ganymede, Jupiter, Io, Europa. After this very close approach the Moon will then move gradually further away to the lower left.
From the South of the island it will be an even closer miss – the separation will be only 1' 0" from Cork, at 03.06: that's only a bit more than the diameter of Jupiter itself.
This will be a superb photo opportunity with a telescope, as it should be possible to record Jupiter, plus all four of its moons, plus the thin crescent Moon, plus the Earthshine.
And if you are on holiday in the far South of England, or on the continent or in the Mediterranean area at the time, you will see the Moon actually occult Jupiter. For example, from Barcelona, the occultation starts just after moonrise: at 03.27 BST (NOT local Spanish time!), when Jupiter is just 1˚ 13' above the horizon. As you go further East from there, the occultation occurs with Jupiter and the Moon higher up: e.g. from Nice it starts at 03.28 BST, at an altitude of 5˚. So if you're going to that region at that time, at the very least bring a pair of binoculars, or even better a small portable telescope.
The team publish their work in the paper, "Four ultra-short period eclipsing M-dwarf binaries in the WFCAM Transit Survey", S. V. Nefs et al. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, in press. A pre-print of the paper can be downloaded from http://arxiv.org/abs/1206.1200
Many thanks to all of you who completed the survey, participated in interviews, and have contributed by way of comments, suggestions, quotes, explanations and photographs. Special thanks to Terry Moseley, Jay Anderson, David Makepeace, James McClean, Dave Balch, and Rick Brown for participating in the interviews. Thanks also to Glenn Schneider, Michael Zeiler, Fred Espenak, Jay Pasachoff, Daniel Lynch, Xavier Jubier, Miloslav Druckmullar for your contributions.
If you are planning to read the book (and I hope many of you do), then I'd be really interested in your feedback. You can do this via Amazon, or directly to me at my preferred email firstname.lastname@example.org. I am also in the final stages of developing a website where folk are welcome to add comments. Details of the site will be announced when it is ready (note – I am not an IT expert, this may take a few weeks).
Next steps – I will be having a book launch party here in Belfast most likely in September, before I then go to Australia for six months where I plan to be involved in various outreach activities related to the eclipse, in addition to doing a little book tour in the path of totality. Kate Russo, Eclipse chasing Psychologist.
(IAA members had a very interesting talk by Kate last year, and some participated in the surveys for the book. I've seen the proof copy, and it really does make fascinating reading. I thought that I was addicted, but just wait until you read some of the accounts from other eclipse-chasers!)