Planets and moon(s) grace our evening sky

Photo: Moon and Jupiter by James Guilford
Earth's Moon and planet Jupiter form the base of a tall triangle. Photo by James Guilford.

Tonight, and for the next couple of nights, Earth’s Moon joins this spring’s conjunction of Jupiter and Venus in our western evening sky. The clouds cleared just in time for the show and I stepped outdoors, tripod-mounted camera in hand, to record the sight as best I could. The three objects, on the list of brightest in the night sky, formed a very elongated triangle with Jupiter and the Moon forming the base, and brilliant Venus at the peak (not shown in the photo above). The three were visible in bright twilight but really came into their own around 8:30 EDT. Later, as I processed my photos, I was surprised and delighted to see I had captured not only Venus, Jupiter, and the Moon but, in a tighter shot, a couple of Jupiter’s moons as well! The nighttime portion of the Moon’s face is lit by Earthshine. Canon EOS 50D: ISO 800, f/4, 1/4 sec., 200mm — James Guilford, 8:34 PM EDT, March 25, 2012

Season-ending open house November 12

The CAA will host their last program and star party of the year for the Medina Park District Saturday, Nov. 12, starting at 8 PM at the Letha House building.

Club president William Murmann will give a presentation about the European Southern Observatory at 8 PM, followed by a public star gazing program if sky conditions permit.

If the skies are clear, observers will see the 17-day waning Moon offering great edge-of-terminator views of some large craters on the eastern limb including floor-fractured Petavius.

Io should be crossing Jupiter around 9:30 that moon casting its shadow on Jupiter’s cloud tops — a good target for larger scopes. All of the Galilean Moons will be visible. The Pleiades and Hyades star clusters will be up, and Orion will be rising in the east.

Club members are asked to please bring their telescopes and join in the star party.

May’s planetary dance

From SpaceWeather.com…

PLANETS AT DAWN: No coffee? No problem! To wake up any morning this week, all you need to do is look out the window. Mars, Jupiter, Venus and Mercury are aligning in the eastern sky for a spectacular dawn conjunction. Mariano Ribas observed the gathering on May 9 from his home in Buenos Aires, Argentina and wrote, “It was an awesome morning with an unforgettable view: four planets packed in just a 7º piece of sky.”

“The very compact Venus-Mercury-Jupiter triangle was simply hypnotic,” Ribas said. “And Mars, below them, was faint but still clearly visible to naked eye. Marvelous planetary gathering, but the best is yet to come.”

Indeed, on May 11th, Venus and Jupiter, the two brightest planets in the Solar System, will converge to form a pair less than 1/2 degree apart. Set your alarm for Wednesday morning and begin the day with an eye-opener–no caffeine required.

See the full story NASA Science News: http://1.usa.gov/kao0Oy