Sunday, November 30, 2008

Best Celestial Sight of 2008

The early evening sky on December 1st holds something special. Jupiter and Venus are approaching each other and will be at their closest separation on that date. It is made even more remarkable by the addition of the thin crescent Moon, full with Earthshine. These three bodies in our solar system fit in the same field of view of a pair of binoculars giving a spectacular arrangement.

Even though they look like they are right next to one another, they are nowhere near each other in space. The Moon glows 250,000 miles away, while Venus and Jupiter respectively lie 93,000,000 and 540,000,000 miles from Virginia.

This all adds up to be the prettiest celestial sight of the year. Look to the southwest between 5:30 and 7:15 p.m. and you won't be disappointed!


Jeff said...

I am sooo glad the skies cleared for tonight's event. The way the weather has been in SW Va over the weekend I thought we might be shutout. That was really a spectacular view tonight to hear about it ahead of time, but then to actually see it was such a treat.

In addition to the marvelous sight, it made me think about the ecliptic and how Jupiter and Venus must be a couple degrees one side or the other from the plane followed by the ecliptic because of their orientation to each other and seemingly perpendicular to the ecliptic itself. Or maybe my own understanding of the planets relation to the ecliptic plane needs more study...

Thanks as always to The Curious Skywatcher for keeping us informed on the events of which to be especially aware in the night skies.

Anonymous said...

It was a really nice grouping,

But, Golly, what a wonderful load of "Butt Kissing" that previous post was.