Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Luna Makes Her Way To Venus

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 secon
ds. 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


Missy said...

Very interesting stuff. I'd like to see that comet! Thanks for sharing Luddie.


ADB said...

Thanks for pointing out the second Venus/Moon conjunction in two months. About the comet, are you saying it is decreasing in brightness as it speeds up? Going from magnitude 5 to 6/7 means it gets less bright.

Cathy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cathy said...

ADB thanks for the heads-up, I should've included that fact. When you get a chance click onto, say, Sept 2007 to read a much better idea of these posts I'd make at AOL. I do try to include everything I think people will appreciate about the cosmic dance above our heads!

A. Kichu said...

Loved browsing your blog!

Trees said...

Great entry Luddie, I always enjoy reading about astronomy from you, indeed you are a wonderful teacher and I have learned so much from you entrys. I do have good binoculars and will definitely watch out for Venus, Luna and the comet if a clear night. Thank you again for this very interesting entry.

Ally Lifewithally said...

I found this entry very interesting and loved the pictures ~ I wish I understood more about astronomy ~ but that didn't stop me enjoying the read ~ Ally x

tony said...

Travelling Backwards!
Its Amazing it all goes on above our heads and the majority dont even look up to see it! Great Post.Thank You.

Beth said...

Cool stuff, Cathy! We have a small telescope, and I'm looking forward to warm summer nights, and seeing what I can see. :)

Indigo said...

Thanks for the heads up on Lulin! I saved the date and will be watching to see if I can see it that night. (Hugs)Indigo

ADM DESIGN'S said...

Very interesting. It would cool seeing that comet. I saw one some years ago it was cool

Anonymous said...

I was up at twilight because I was looking forward to the snow. I didn't have the binocs out, but I was looking at the moon. I'm one of those fools who can gaze at it for quite a time and be content.

Winivere said...

You know I love the moon. LOL... Thanks for sharing.

natalie said...

Dear Kathy,
Hi! What a beautiful post! thank you so much!
It's incredible how you make your entries so enjoyable and educational seriously!\
You know me, my favorite part was when you talked about the unexpected happening and the meters etc. Venus eh?
I was sick last week

natalie said...

Dear Cathy,
I wrote an entry about our Bill of Rights. Are these essential to you?
please comment..thanks!
p.s I was surprised the way they treated Carolyn Kennedy as well.

Lori said...

Very interesting post. How have you been? Haven't seen you around in awhile. Hope all is well.

Heli gunner Tom said...

Hi Cathy,
Thanks for the advice and encouragement on my Blog post yesterday. Right now, I need all the friends and help I can get. Do I have your email address?


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Cathy said...

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