As I look at this skymap and watch the glorious Luna ascend toward her cosmic compatriot, Venus (our night "light" for now) I realize how steady the universe seems. How predictable at times, which is fine for most - we like to know what we can expect to see. But our little galaxy alone is plastic and malleable, and one never knows what to expect. For instance, there's a comet on the way.But for now: Tonight, Tuesday 27th if you're up around twilight in North America, look to the West-Southwest to see a very dim crescent moon - or better still follow the bright Venus down to it's lower right. Binocs needed to see the waxing crescent.By the 28th Luna will continue to rise, and the finale is the 29th when she will shine in a bright waxing crescent only 5 degrees to the lower right of our beautiful Venus. Who knows what these ladies have to discuss!
Then Luna takes her leave on the 30th rising high and even brighter, making me think perhaps Venus shared a bit of her energy with the mysterious orb we love.
This is a North American event, and you'll of course need to be in a clear big-sky area. Get those binocs yet? I swear if I had the $ I'd get everyone a pair of good binoculars, you'd actually drop your jaw watching the Perseid meteor shower as it seems to descend right down upon you. Above picture of Comet Lulin's blue-green gaseous tail
So about that comet! It's called "Lulin" and is being touted as "the"comet of the season. As it's watched all over the globe, from Australia to India to Africa, it makes it's magnitude 5 way toward earth. As it speeds up, it may reach 6-7 which diminishes its brightness. Early in February it will be making its way to constellation Virgo.
On the night of February 23rd it will near its peak brightness, and make its way toward Saturn. This may be visible to the naked eye, depending on Luna's interference, since she loves the attention.
Lulin's closest approach to earth will be February 24th. By now this comet wil be visible in the night sky easily and remain so all through the night. Afterward it makes its very speedy way in opposition to the sun, about 180 degrees now that's over 5 degrees per day - that comes to 1 arcsecond every 5 seconds. In case you long forgot from my old Journal about arcseconds, it's just 1/60th of a degree, and looks like this: ^ So if you see 5^ you know it means 5 arcseconds, or MOA (minutes of arc). Isn't astronomy amazing?
A bit of minutia: Lulin is traveling backward.
Basics as usual courtesy of S&T, UAG, JPL, NASA, Gryphon, sky charts