Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Learn more about your telescope and the night sky!

Stargazing for the Curious Skywatcher – Tuesdays, Feb. 17-March 24, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., $85, plus cost of book and planisphere. Tour the universe and learn how to see lunar craters , planets and their moons. Room 122, Greenfield Education and Training Center at Daleville. Instructor: John Goss. (PYSC 1100-G1N, #74487)

"Use that 'Scope!" -- Saturday, Jan. 31, 9:00 a.m .to noon, Moomaw Center, main campus, Clifton Forge. $20. Instructor: John Goss. Get a new telescope for Christmas and not sure how to use it? Learn how to use your new 'scope to find fun sky objects. Be sure to bring your telescope with you! Inclement weather date: Feb. 7. (PHSC 1101-M1K, #74706).

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Changing Planets

The planetary players in our southwestern sky have changed over the past month. Jupiter is now too close to the horizon in the bright evening twilight to be seen. Mercury still can be found low about 30 minutes after sunset. It drops below the horizon around 6:30.

Venus reaches is greatest angular distance from the sun on January 14. It is at its highest in the western sky this year when it is first spotted which, for careful skywatchers, is just before the sun drops below the horizon. As darkness falls, Venus glows brilliantly, often being confused for an approaching airplane, or even a UFO. From a dark location, Venus is so bright that it can cast a shadow!

Such is our view from Earth ...