Double Stellar Spectacle

Written by The Night Sky Guy on September 18, 2009 – 10:09 am -

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Over the course of the next few early mornings the eastern sky will host two stellar jewels in a tight celestial dance. The planet Venus, also known as the ‘morning star’ has been slowly sinking towards the horizon the past few weeks inching its way closer to another bright star in the same part of the sky – Regulus.
The brightest member of the constellation Leo, the lion, Regulus will be joined by Venus in a very tight embrace. Saturday morning the much brighter Venus will be just above the brilliant star.
click to enlarge

click to enlarge

But the closest encounter will happen on Sunday morning when the pair will  be separated by less than 0.5 degrees – that is only the width of one full moon disk! 
By Monday morning the goddess of love will continue its journey down the sky and leave behind the Heart of the Lion still standing vigil.  Those with binoculars or small telescopes can get a nice glimpse of the pair up close.
Remember that while they may look close in the sky, in reality Venus is 220 million km away, while Regulus is 77 light years distant. It takes about an entire human lifetime for its light to reach us! Something to think about when taking in this beautiful sky show this weekend.

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