23 September 2013

Bright Stars and Planets in the Morning

Fantastic Morning Sky
I get up early, and I am quite aware of the fact that as autumn begins, the mornings are darker and darker. Here in the west side of San Francisco, autumn is when our clear skies return (following the summer fog) and the sky starts to come alive. My early start of the day means that I get to see the fabulous winter skies and the brilliant planet Jupiter when I step outside to get the newspaper. The southeasterly view just before dawn is riveting, with Jupiter dominating
the sky to the east, and the stunning constellation Orion, and the brightest star in the sky Sirius, to the south.

Later this week, the waning gibbous Moon glides high across the sky, passing near Jupiter on the 28th. As the sunrise moves a few minutes later each morning, the sky becomes more accessible and if you can spare a minute of your morning routine, you'll like what you see.

Image courtesy of Sky & Telescope.

06 September 2013

Venus and the Crescent Moon Pair Up

Moon and Venus pair up
Sunday September 8th will be a good day to go to the beach (or anywhere with a good western horizon) to see a great alignment of brilliant Venus and a young thin crescent Moon hovering above the horizon minutes after sunset. The two will be a beautiful pair for the hour after sunset (7:30 pm here in San Francisco) and as the sky darkens in the minutes after sunset, Earthshine on the Moon should be outstanding. The skies in the San Franisco Bay Area are at their best of the year, clear and calm. Can't wait to look at this!

EarthSky recommends that you use the Moon to help you find Venus during the daytime. Yes, you can see the brightest celestial objects in the middle of a sunny day if you know where to look. I think it's quite cool to spot the shiny dot of Venus hanging in the bright blue sky. It's a real challenge to find, but worth the search. Best of luck with that, and if you don't find Venus in the day, you'll certainly find it after sunset.