Sunday, November 30, 2008


AMATEUR ASTRONOMY:
A GREAT CONJUNCTION-NOV 30 TO DECEMBER 1:
Here's a little break from the usual political subject matter on this blog. Tonight and tomorrow there will be a "grand conjunction" of the Moon, Venus and Jupiter in the southwest sky. If you have been watching in that direction for the past few evenings, as Molly has, you will have seen Venus (lower and brighter) and Jupiter (higher and dimmer) gradually getting closer and closer together. The last time I was able to spot the pair, at about 5:00 on Friday the two planets were about 6 to seven degrees apart. Tonight Venus will overtake Jupiter and appear slightly below and to the east of Jupiter. A very thin crescent Moon will be seen closer to the horizon in the west. Tonight the two planets will be about 2 degrees away from each other, but you will be unable to see them from here in Winnipeg. It seems we almost always have overcast conditions for the best celestial events. The Environment Canada weather site predicts further cloud cover through tomorrow and the day after. A better site for those interested is the Clear Dark Sky site. they predict a period of relatively clearness tomorrow from 3 to 7 pm. This may be a chance to catch the events as the Moon climbs to the west of the planetary pair and Venus likewise moves further from Jupiter. This will actually be the best time to view the event as the three objects will be within a four degree triangle. After December 1 the Moon will be quite obviously to the east of the planets, and Venus will also be further from Jupiter in the same direction. Catch it if you can. The Clear Dark Sky site will give you viewing conditions for your locality if you live in North America.




The photo above, by the way, is from a prairie amateur astronomy site that I recently discovered, the Black Holes and Astro Stuff blog. I recommend it highly. The photo shows the Venus/Jupiter pair, along with the track of the International Space Station that was prominent in the southwest sky the last few days. I'm sure that, weather conditions permitting, that the BHAAS blog will be in the running for the Sky News photo contest this year. Would that I had such photo talent. By the way, here's another item from that blog, a picture of the area where the recent 'Prairie Meteor' was sighted. Pieces of the meteor have apparently been found near Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, but more on that later. See the BHAAS blog on our "Scientific Links' section, with many kudos to a great blogger.

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