Friday, February 24, 2012

Our Sky Tonight via Star Chart

This was the sky off our front porch tonight at 8:43 pm. It appears to be a majestic alignment of almost every planet, partially obstructed by the curve of the Earth. Above our horizon is a crescent Moon, along with Venus, and Jupiter. This was a special treat to behold in itself. Jennifer and I stood out in a chilly evening breeze to admire the formation in the vividly clear night sky, which prompted me to fire-up Star Chart on my iPad. This revealed a wider juxtaposition.

Below the horizon was the Sun, of course, which is the cause of the "lens-flare effect" in this view of my Star Chart app. Accompanying the Sun was a comparatively nearby Mercury with a far more distant Uranus above it (but still below the horizon looking west off my porch). Neptune was below the Sun. Mars and Saturn were the only planets missing from this view - and Pluto as well, but it is no longer considered a planet.

Of course, the alignment itself was merely our perspective. In reality all these objects were widely scattered throughout the solar system. From a strictly astronomical perspective this was only the alignment of Venus, Jupiter, and Mercury, which is actually not a rare alignment at all. But, that didn't make it any less cool.

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