Skywatchers around the world get set to see a striking triple planetary meetup in the evening skies the likes of which won’t be repeated until 2026.
From May 24 to 27, Mercury, Venus, and Jupiter will appear to converge in the low northwest sky after sunset and all you need to see this event are just your eyes!
The best part of the show will be on May 26th when all three planets are huddled together in a tight triangular formation. Check the image below for what it will look like in your low northwestern sky.
For all the details check out my skywatcher’s guide at National Geographic News
Tags: conjun, conjunction, Jupiter, Mercury, Venus
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If you have clear skies in your neck of the woods over the weekend of April 13th then step outside and look west for a beautiful pairing between the Moon and some of the brightest stars and planet in the night sky.
While conjunctions like thee are not rare by any means, they do make for a great opportunity to track down some celestial objects that otherwise may be a challenge to find for beginner stargazers. And for those more experienced navigating the heavens, this cosmic close encounter makes for a pretty photo op.
Read all the details about the Moon-planet-star event, including detailed star charts, at National Geographic News
Tags: Aldebaran, conjunction, Hyades star cluster, Jupiter, Pleiades, Taurus
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Early Monday morning two American amateur astronomers independently spotted a bright flash of light in the upper cloud-deck of Jupiter – the fourth impact on the gas giant discovered in just the last three years.
Early suspicion by astronomers is that a meteor or comet had hit the atmosphere of the planet – and the fact that it was visible from Earth through backyard telescopes more than 730 million km away – indicates it was probably a significant event.
Check out the actual 2-second video frames of the impact on Jupiter this week as captured by a webcam attached to a 12″ LX200 Meade telescope by a backyard astronomer in Dallas, Texas.
Tags: Jupiter, meteor impact
Posted in Meteors, Planets, Solar System | 1 Comment »
Warm summer nights and awe-inspiring shooting stars are an unbeatable combination! That’s why skywatchers look forward to the annual Perseid meteor shower. Visible with the naked eye from the city to cottage country, dozens of “shooting stars” will light up the late-night skies. With the waning crescent moon rising above the horizon only around 1 am tonight, the peak date of August 11th, this cosmic light show will surely put on an impressive display. Skywatchers get to see a flurry of shooting stars start 10 pm with rates increasing until pre-dawn hours Sunday. Anywhere from 20 to 80 shooting stars per hour depending on local sky conditions.
Here is my Night Sky episode that talks all about the shower and some bonus planets that are joining the show too!
EXTRA: Sky-watchers with backyard telescopes, though, might join NASA in training their lenses on the moon for an elusive, potentially flashy Perseid sideshow.
Read my National Geographic observers guide for more information on how some backyard telescope owners watch Persieds actually impact the moon!… http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/08/120810-perseid-meteor-shower-perseids-science-space-astronomy/
Tags: Jupiter, meteor shower, Perseids, Venus
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It’s worth waking up early these days to check out the amazing view in the eastern sky at dawn. Venus dominates the sky, while Jupiter to its upper right and the Pleiades star cluster complete the picture postcard view!.
Astrophotographer Marc Ricard captured the cosmic scene this week from Warkworth, Ontario using a Canon 60D DSLR with a single 19 second exposure and 35mm, f/1.4 lens. Look carefully and you can even see the strong light from Venus illuminating the clouds in front of it! Wow! The goddess of love is burning bright now.
Tags: Jupiter, Pleiades, Venus
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Tags: Jupiter, Venus
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In Montreal, Canada, where I am based skies are about 60% cloudy so chances are usually that I miss an astronomical event but this week I have been blessed with some clear skies and managed to catch at least some of the planet-moon show going on in the western sky at sunset. Here are a couple of my attempts at capturing the cosmic beauty of the Venus-moon conjunction of March 26, 2012.
Tags: conjunction, Earthshine, Jupiter, Venus
Posted in Planets, The Moon | 2 Comments »
If you have been watching the early evening skies at all in the last few weeks you probably noticed the two superbright ‘stars’ in the west are drawing closer together by the day. Two of the most brilliant planets in our solar system, Venus and Jupiter, are about to get a lot more cozy in the heavens.
The main event will be from March 12 to 15 when the two worlds will come closest together in the sky.
Tags: Jupiter, Venus
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Over the course of the next few evening the waxing crescent Moon will be gliding by some bright star-like objects in the southwest sky. As the Moon heads higher in the sky as it goes through it’s monthly cycle it regularly has close encounters with planets and some of the brighter more conspicuous stars.
For casual skywatchers it can sometimes be hard to differentiate which bright pinpoint of light in the sky is either a planet or an alien sun light years away. After all both look pretty much the same in the night sky, don’t they? Well this is where the Moon on specific dates, can point certain planets and stars out for us.
On Saturday, Jan.28th look towards the southwest as night falls and you can watch the Moon appear sandwiched between two widely separated bright stars – forming a striking, diagonal line titled towards the left. The creamy coloured star shining above the moon is Jupiter, sitting at 748 million km away while the brighter, white star below Luna is Venus, located 170 million km from Earth. BTW the Moon is only 398,000 km distant.
By Sunday and Monday, Jan.29th and 30th the Moon will have floated up to pay a visit to Jupiter. The pair will appear to be very close to each other at only 5 degrees apart – that’s equal to the width of 3 middle fingers held at an outstretched arm.
Of course their proximity is just an illusion since the planets themselves are separated by hundreds of million of kilometers of space. They just happen to be aligned one in back of the other in a near straight line to provide this special view for us Earthbound observers.
Because the glare of the moon may filter out some of the light from this group of seven naked-eye stars – it’s worth pointing your binoculars at the cluster. This way you can get to see some of the dozens of fainter stars that make up this young stellar association – and should really show off this 400 light year distant stellar treasure!
The bright moon can be the bane of astronomers, but for beginner stargazers it can really be one of the best guides to finding your way around the heavens. So remember the next few evenings to go outside if its clear and look up for some cosmic eye candy.
Tags: Jupiter, Venus
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Any any clear night next few weeks check out the brightest star of the entire year, Sirius, shining like a lone beacon in the southern sky. The lead member in the constellation Canis Major or Big Dog, it’s so brilliant because it is one of the closest stars to Earth at just over 8 light years away.
Surrounding it is a crown of stellar diamonds that are the hallmark of winter skies. To its upper right is the granddaddy of all stellar figures, Orion the hunter – where you’ll find blue coloured Rigel, orange Betelgeuse and its belt of 3 stars in between. Meanwhile to the upper left of Sirius you can see the Gemini twins, Castor and Pollux, and just below it, Canis Minor’s Procyon.
Turning to planets, Mars glows faintly as an orange star in the southeastern sky late nights just below the rump of Leo and within the constellation Virgo . If you wait until dawn, the Red Planet will have glided over to the low southwest. As Mars begins to get closer to Earth in the next few months, it will slowly begin to brighten and rise earlier in the evening as we head into Spring in a couple of months. If you have a telescope handy then you may begin to see surface features on the planet as it increases in apparent size in the sky. By far the easiest to spot will be the bright white north polar cap of Mars, which is tilted towards Earth.
Also worth checking out with a telescope at dawn is the ringed planet Saturn. It now shines , high in the south to the upper left of Virgo’s brightest star Spica.
Can’t forget our closest celestial neighbour, the moon, since it will be involved in two must see events in the coming weeks. While Venus has been dominating the western sky at sunset these past couple of months it will be joined by a crescent moon on Jan.25th and 26th making for a great photo-op.
The king of all planets, super-bright Jupiter high in the south at dusk gets its turn to dance with the first quarter moon on the evening of the 30th.
Finally, keep an eye on both Venus and Jupiter over the course of the next few months. You will see that they are slowly approaching each other as they head for a striking close encounter in March.
Tags: Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, Sirius, Venus
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