Venus, Jupiter, and the Moon – December 1
The brilliant planets Venus and Jupiter have been drawing closer in the evening sky throughout the month of November, 2008. The last week of November is the “main event,” as these celestial bodies noticeably change their positions with each passing night.
Venus and Jupiter are the brightest “stars” in the sky, and actually the brightest celestial objects after the Sun and Moon. Jupiter and Venus come close together every year or so, and the Moon passes each of these every month. However, it is relatively rare to see all three objects so close together, especially in the evening sky. All we need is clear skies and we’re all set!
If you look up on Thanksgiving evening, Thursday, November 27, you will
see Jupiter above and to the left of Venus, at the “11 o’clock” position
from the bright evening star. By three days later, on the evening of
Sunday, November 30, Venus will have swung under Jupiter, so that the
latter planet is now at the “two o’clock” position from Venus. On that
evening, the waxing crescent Moon will enter the scene, below and to the
right of this bright pair.
The last month of 2008 will begin on the evening of Monday, December 1
with the closest approach of Venus and Jupiter, joined by the closest
passing of the four-day-old waxing crescent Moon. This will be a unique
opportunity to see the LORD’s celestial clockwork in action, so be sure
to look outside to the southwest in evening twilight after sunset.
Pray for clear skies! If you live in a warm, clear sky location, you really should make it a point to take a couple minutes out of your evening to observe this event.
Keep an eye on these objects throughout the first week of December. The
Moon will wax away from the evening planets, heading east as it grows
thicker in phase. Venus will pass to the left of Jupiter, moving higher
in the southwest sky as Jupiter moves lower.
To understand this event from a “God’s eye view,” the Earth is currently
swinging around the Sun away from Jupiter, and so this planet is moving
behind the Sun as seen from the Earth. Throughout December, Jupiter will
inch toward the sunset a little bit each night, finally disappearing into
the Sun’s bright afterglow. On January 24, 2009, Jupiter will invisibly
pass the opposite point from the Earth in its superior conjunction with
Meanwhile, swift Venus is emerging farther and farther from the sunset
and climbing higher and higher in the evening sky. Venus will reach its
maximum eastern elongation on January 14, 2009, when its apparent
distance from the Sun is greatest. After that, Venus will draw again
toward the Sun as it overtakes the Earth in its orbit.
For the time being, on Monday, December 1, Jupiter and Venus will “pass
each other on the way” as they fall along the same line of sight as seen
from the surface of the Earth.
Folks, again, this is an excellent opportunity to observe the clockwork
of the heavens in action. Make it a point to notice Jupiter and Venus in
the next couple weeks as clear skies permit. Tell your friends, family,
and neighbors and share this info with your homeschool support group.
People are always amazed to see the planets and this is a rare show that
you won’t want to miss!
(found circling the `web)