Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Triple Conjuction

We received the following email forwarded to us from a friend and thought we would go outside and see what we could see. We did see the moon and the two planets really clearly together. We missed them crossing, but it was still fun to go outside and know what you were looking at!!


Email:
A Triple Conjunction of Venus, Jupiter, & the Moon

Tonight go outside after sunset when the sky gets dark and look to the
South-west. You'll see what looks like two bright stars. Besides the
moon, these are the brightest objects in the night sky, but they're not
stars at all. They are the planets Jupiter and Venus. You'll be able
to tell them apart because Venus is always the brighter planet. You
might expect Jupiter to be brighter because it's the biggest planet in
the solar system, but that is not the case. Jupiter is over 527 MILLION
miles away, so it appears a little smaller and dimmer than Venus, which
is only a mere 100 MILLION miles away.

This evening, December 1st, the two planets will appear to pass one
another with only 2 degrees of apparent separation between them. That's
about the width of your thumb when held at arm's-length. When multiple
objects like this appear near one another in the sky, it's an event
known as a conjunction. Jupiter and Venus will not be visibly in
conjunction again until May 2011, so don't miss it this time. But, to
make this event even more exciting, on the evening of December first the
crescent moon will join the planets to form a triple conjunction of
three solar system objects–all observable with the unaided eye if the
weather cooperates.

Go out tonight and enjoy your universe!



Tom Hooten
Instructor, Physics & Engineering



The bright spot above Brad is the moon. The two planets were just below on either side, making a triangle.

Everyone is checking out the moon and planets! It was really cold!

3 comments:

Rebecca said...

It was really cold!?! Nelson is in short sleeves. I think Texas has changed your opinion of weather somewhat.

That's cool about the planets, though. I guess I'll have to wait until 2011.

Alana said...

Jarrett, pointed that out to me. I like how Macey seems to poiting at you.

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