Thursday, February 23, 2023

Heavenly Hook-Up

     Nothing like a little voyeurism to get the juices flowing. Especially when it involves watching Roman gods masquerading as planets. Two of them, Venus and Jupiter, are currently having a little tête-à-tête in the evening sky. Look to the west as the sky darkens and you can't miss them. Venus is currently lower and brighter with Jupiter hovering above, but night by night they are drawing together and on March 1st they will be close enough for the goddess to give old Jove a smooch. Astronomers call it a conjunction, while I call it convenient to have a nice sky show in the early evening hours. 

From Sky and Telescope website

        Although the pair will look chummy from our perspective they are actually separated by more than 400 million miles in space. No hanky-panky possible. Another interesting fact: while Jupiter is much the larger of the two, Venus appears brighter because it is both closer to the Sun and to us here on Earth and it also reflects more light, giving it a higher albedo than Jupiter. With both what you are seeing is sunlight reflected off the tops of clouds. While you're watching the planets, notice the shimmering stars of Orion and nearby Sirius. They produce their own light by fusion ( like our Sun ) but because they are vastly further away they don't appear as bright as Venus and Jupiter.

     You might also keep an eye out for the northern lights. The Sun seems to be getting a little more active which increases the chance of aural displays. Carl Heilman, the talented Adirondack photographer, has posted some nice shots on Facebook of aurora taken from his home at Brant Lake. I'll also pass along a photo that originally appeared on the APOD. It was taken in Norway, just in case you want to climb a mountain and be dazzled.


Max Rive image


     Springs coming, the sap is flowing and the sky is putting on a show. What's not to like?   

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for alerting us to look up at the sky now. Great descriptions! Right now, I'd get eyeballs full of snowflakes, but as soon as the sky clears, I'll follow your directions.