Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Venus, Jupiter and the Moon: An Awesome Lineup Coming Up.
I hope you have all been enjoying the antics of Jupiter and Venus in Sagittarius. This week sees a spectacular finale as Venus and Jupiter come together for an amazing lineup in the sky.
At the moment, Venus is easily seen high in the early western evening sky near the handle of the "teapot" of Sagittarius, not far from Jupiter (the brightest object in the sky after Venus). As the week goes on, Venus and Jupiter come much, much closer together. By Saturday 29 November they are nearly side by side. On the 30th they draw closer again, and the thin crescent Moon can be seen below them almost touching the bright star Kaus Borealis in the lid of the "Teapot".
Finally, on Monday December 1 the crescent Moon, Venus and Jupiter form a close triangle that you can cover with your thumb. All three objects will fit into the field of view of a pair of binoculars. A small telescope will show the craters of the Moon, the satellites of Jupiter and the half moon phase of Venus all close by. The dark side of the Moon should show up with the ghostly glow of Earthshine on it. This will be an excellent photo opportunity.
The best time to look is between half an hour and an hour and a half after sunset, although the planets can be seen outside these times.
I hope you enjoy it.