By Dave Fuller on 8/13/2014 6:29 PM
Early in the mornings this week, the two brightest planets in the sky, Jupiter and Venus, skim past each other so closely that they may look like one single bright planet. They'll be close enough together, in fact, that both will be visible in the same telescopic field of view at moderate magnification.

Start by looking late in the week for the two planets as they saunter towards each other. Venus will initially be the higher, and brighter object. Look below it for Jupiter, dimmer by about 2 full magnitudes. Despite the twilight glow, both of these wanderers in the sky are bright enough that they ought to be visible for quite some time in the increasing twilight before sunrise. Look for your local sunrise time, and and 45 minutes to an hour beforehand, look towards the east-northeast with an unobstructed or very low horizon. 

Jupiter and Venus meet in the sky animated gif

By Dave Fuller on 1/26/2014 10:34 PM
The waning crescent Moon near Venus

This is truly a week for the Moon to be nearby objects. About an hour before sunrise on the morning of January 28, look out towards the east-southeastern sky where you have a clear, unobstructed view. Venus will be hard to miss, it's vivid, bright sparkling light dancing about 10 degrees above the horizon. 

But despite being technically brighter by almost 50 times, the larger surface area of the Moon may be harder to see, due to the very slim crescent of a Moon phase just a day or so before new. in the northern hemisphere, look to the right of Venus about 10 degrees or so (will vary somewhat based on location and time zone). Binoculars can help you pick out the narrow lit section of the Moon, though unfortunately the...
By Dave Fuller on 1/26/2014 10:10 PM
Mars near Spica last week of January 2014

For the next week or so, the Red Planet of Mars will be nearby the bluish white star of Spica. The two will not be much above the horizon at midnight, but an hour later achieve enough elevation to be reasonably observed. The contrast between them should make for an interesting sight, too: Mars has a very distinct, orange hue to it, and Spica is a large, B-spectral class star that glows with a bluish tint. 

With the two objects at nearly the same magnitude, and just a few finger width's apart from each other, they are well suited to comparison. Of course, the actual size and distance is fascinating to consider as well. 

Mars is a mere 1 Astronomical Unit from Earth this week - or about 150,000,000...

The Nightlight

This blog includes what to see in the night and daytime skies, thoughts on telescopes, binoculars, and other astronomy observing accessories and equipment, plus my own occasional notes on objects I've seen and observed. Oh, and the random theater or other "my take on life" post. In other words, there is always something interesting. Check it out.