Saturday, December 22, 2007

Above, Beyond, And A Bright Star

Above our heads some simple happenings, nothing in the way of great meteors nor planetary magic, still I thought I'd tell you what we're entering the next few days - after this, the longest night of the year, has finally come to an end here in North America.  I had a most fitful evening and will post about it sometime.

Are you feeling a bit of malaise, melancholy perhaps, even sad?  Have a tendency to sleep more than usual?  There's an odd reasoning which originates in the closing of a year for humans, who need the seasons and don't want to see the "last" one end, for it means the unknown future, and that is nothing but ancestral fear, revisited.  You're in good company.  Now:  Onto the stars....

Saturday:  Now that winter has officially begun, Luna has met the Pleiades.  At dusk, North Americans with binocs will get a great view of her, nearly full, just finishing her crossing of this cluster.  Northern Europeans will get an even better view tonight the 22nd, and tomorrow, as the Moon occults the Pleiades high up and late in the evening.  Look far to her right for a look at two great stars, Aldabaran in an orange hue, and yellowish Capella, as in the map above.

There's a very slight chance of the weak Ursids passing through (they originate from Comet Tuttle) and if it happens, it'll be around 5 PM EST (22h UT).  The radiant is in Ursa Minor, so if they're coming, it'll be from that constellation.

Sunday:  This is when Mars and a full Luna shine very close together, should be a wonderful sight.  They're both very close to opposition of the sun, and Mars will appear dusky.  The full moon will occult (cover) Mars completely if you're looking from the northwest tip of the US, or north and eastern Europe much later tonight, into the 25th.  Once again, my European friends won't get this view.

Monday:  Around sunset, Mars will be at opposition and highest overhead around midnight.  He'll be the spot of orange light shining to the upper right of Luna.

Christmas star:  Odd they call it this, wonder why.  Anyway you know the "dog star" Sirius, it'll be brilliant, the brightest star in the visible sky, rising around 7 or 8 PM in the Northern hemisphere.  Watch for it in Orion's Belt.  One thing about Sirius, it twinkles (which is really space dust floating across its path) but it's quite a show as it changes in color as it blinks.  Binocs show this very nicely.  Mars will outshine Sirius just a bit this week, but Mars doesn't "twinkle" lol. 

Tuesday:  Merry Sol Invictus!  Sweet Saturnalia!  And a very happy Christmas to all!   This day, as explained in the previous post, is the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun.  We celebrate the sun's survival past another dark solstice with the promise of light and warmth in the spring and summer.  Christianity has chosen to mark this date, after chosing many others over time, as the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.  

There is nothing in the universe that isn't a fascination and a miracle to dwell upon.  Here in this one, tiny, tilted galaxy among bilions of others, we have even more billions of stars, and how many planets are orbiting those stars like our sun is just unfathomable.  May we always be as children on Christmas morn when looking into the heavens.      

 

  

 

 

 

11 comments:

jeanno43 said...

The heavens are magical. I have always loved looking at the night sky.

http://journals.aol.co.uk/jeanno43/JeannettesJottings/

pharmolo said...

The wintersky is my favourite, and I'll certainly try to capture the moon passing through the Pleiades

gazker said...

Happy Solstice to you too! I was reading about the meteor that has a 1/75 chance of hitting Mars, what do you think?
Gaz xx

xxroxymamaxx said...

Amen!!  Fascination info!!  thank you for it and I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and that all your Christmas wishes come true.  Love, Shelly

lanurseprn said...

I really enjoyed reading this entry. I hope you have a good weekend.
Pam

ma24179 said...

It is amazing... there are just so many things that we don't know about the universe yet... We may never know what all exists out there...Merry Christmas -Missy

patrice21459 said...

Hi Cath,
Thank you so much for your kind comments to both Steven and myself. It makes the effort all worthwhile to know that we can reach out to people and offer a part of ourselves to bring a smile or a tear to those close to us.
Your journal always fascinates me and gets the old brainbox ticking over, I guess we will never know all there is to know about the universe but it's such fun to marvel on.
I wish a very merry Christmas to you and yours and wish you A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR too.
Love Pat   x x x

rockoned7 said...

Bah! Humbug! I’d say. Is that time of the year again? Hadn’t we one just last year, the same as all those years before? What are all you star gazers like? Bored? Forgotten? Repentive?

Give me that good old dark frost weary night, the pea soup fog ballooning over the crisp dampened earth with its heavy stench clinging to my lungs, nipping my eyes, and taking and souring my breath, then being consumed into its mixture of staleness and eeriness, and you load of myopic geeks want to look at the heavens? Bah, humbug I can say!
For those who know me I’d like to say sitting here with my Bud (weiser) relaxing in the evening sun in the high seventies, and wiping the dust from my legs. I sure miss all those things and much more!

Is it snowing yet or is this solstice just an excuse for missing the good old fashioned Christmas rush that you want to freeze your brains looking skywards? Again Bah humbug!

Wishing you all a joyful and peaceful Christmas with all that spirit it can bring (well it will to me, come midnight 31) from ED in Dubai UAE.

Keep looking or Santa may pass you by! Full moon here so Im off howling

wwfbison said...

I loved reading this entry, it took me back to my pre-teen years.  My best friend and I would take our Astronomy books outside and try to find the stars and constellations.  I loved it.  Many nights now Doug and I will darken all of our outside lights and sit in our spa and watch the sky.  I am afraid I don't remember much from those younger days but I am still mesmermized by shooting stars and trying to find constellations.
Lisa
http://journals.aol.com/wwfbison/life-on-a-bison-farm

aimer said...

Stopping by to wish you a very Merry Christmas!--Sheria

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