Sunday, September 28, 2008

9/29 - 10/4 — The view from Earth: The first 1 billion miles

Sun: As seen from our earthly perspective, our parent star lies in Virgo.

Mercury: The solar system’s smallest planet is moving between the Earth and the Sun. It can not be seen after sunset because appears too close to the Sun.

Venus: This bright Earth-sized world shines low in the west 30 minutes after sunset. It is swinging away from the Sun as it slowly catches up to the Earth, which it won’t do until late March 2009.

Moon: On October 2nd, the crescent Moon and Venus are separated by 10ยบ, which is the same apparent distance that your fist has on your outstretched arm. In other words, your fist fits between Venus and the Moon.

Mars: The Red Planet is moving behind the Sun and won’t be visible again until March 2009.

Jupiter: At 7:30 p.m., the giant planet hangs low in the southern portion of our sky in eastern Sagittarius.

Saturn: This ringed world rises directly east at 6:00 a.m. It is in Leo.

Such is our view from Earth ...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Learn about stargazing from the Curious Skywatcher

Adult Education Courses
Fall 2008, Botetourt County
Sponsored by Dabney S. Lancaster Community College
To register, contact NonCredit
Coordinator Judy Clark at (540) 8632863
or email Toll free: (877) 73DSLCC, ext. 2863.
Greenfield Education and Training Center
57 S. Center Drive, Daleville, VA
Stargazing for the Curious Skywatcher
Tuesdays, Sept. 23 – Oct. 28, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., $85, Room 122. Instructor John Goss. Tour
the universe and learn how to see lunar craters, planets and their moons, constellations, star
clusters, etc. Book & planisphere may be purchased first night. (PHSC 1100G1N,

Monday, September 8, 2008

ID Jupiter

Our Moon points out Jupiter on the evening of September 9.

The gibbous Moon lies just below the bright planet in our early evening sky. Look at Jupiter through binoculars. If you hold them steady, just to Jupiter's right are four dim objects, all in a row. The planet's glare may prevent you from seeing all of them, but the one farther to the right should be visible. These are Jupiter's four largest moons. The one to the far right is Callisto. The other three proceeding towards the planet are Europa, Io, and Ganymede. Ganymede is the solar system's largest moon — larger than the planet Mercury. If you look on the following night, the moon will have rearranged themselves as they orbit the giant planet.

Such is our view from Earth ...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Venus and Mars are all right tonight

This week Venus and Mars can be found low in the west shortly after sunset. Every night, Venus appears slightly higher in the western sky while Mars drops lower.

Look to the west about 8:00 p.m. If you have a low unobstructed horizon, you should see a bright "star" near the horizon. That is Venus, our solar system's second planet from the sun. Through binoculars you may glimpse Mercury below Venus.

Tonight, Mars will be to the upper left of Venus. You'll probably need binoculars to catch it in the bright twilight. Over the next 4 nights, Venus and Mars grow closer. On September 11, Venus finally passes Mars when they will be practically bump into each other. You'll need binoculars to see this.

No doubt about it, this will be a tough sight to see because of the twilight and low altitude of these two planets.

Such is our view from Earth ...