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I am working on the template of this blog today in order to chase down some problems that have developed with my template and widgets.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Moon joins Venus, Mars and Saturn in the Evening Sky


Solar System Viewer is courtesy of John Walker. Annotations for the Astronomically Impaired by Bobby Coggins.



This evening, just after sunset, the moon will join three planets in a relatively small section of the sky tonight. The chart above (not to scale) gives the approximate locations of all the planets in our solar system.


For those of you who aren't into astronomy, I took the liberty of annotating a grphic produced at John Walker's most excellent website, Solar System Live


JPL has a similar service that is technically accurate, but visually uninteresting and not designed to convey useful information to anyone other than a space geek like myself. Witness the image from JPL below...no matter how hard I tried, it would not let me represent the location of the plantes in the solar system in one image...






The JPL Solar System Simulator



What I am trying to get across by using the above images is that while the planets and the moon are in the same small section of the sky as seen from Earth, they are actually very far apart. For example, the moon is about 228,000 miles away tonight; Venus is 68,262,000 miles away (and closer to the Sun); Mars is 191,952,000 miles away (and farther from the sun than the Earth); and Saturn is 956,226,000 miles away (and much farther from the Sun). 


A handy star chart is available from SpaceWeather by clicking this link.




I plan on going to a nearby overlook this evening (weather permitting) and trying to get some images of these planets and the moon in conjunction with one another and will post it (or them) as an addenda to this post, so after you go take a look for yourself, come back by and see if i saw anything!






**addenda**


The weather did not cooperate. We had thunderstorms in the area and, during one break in the storms, I did manage to capture a rainbow...



Rainbow after a storm on August 13, 2010. Photo by Bobby Coggins.



Maybe the weather will be better for the next astronomical event.
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