What heavenly bodies are so brightly visible in the western sky tonight?

Discussion in 'The Great Outdoors!' started by Jim, Mar 6, 2012.

  1. Jim

    Jim Moderator

  2. Phog Allen

    Phog Allen Contributor

    This is kind of interesting Jim. My wife and I took our youngest daughter to a nearby lake to look at the stars the other night. The man in the moon was too bright though and it made viewing kind of hard. Other than the big and little dippers I am clueless about the constellations. I have noticed two very bright objects in the southwestern sky of an evening so I am guessing one may be Venus and the other Regula. Just guessing though.

    Cheers, Todd
  3. I think Jupiter and Venus are out and about these evenings.

    Had an opportunity to view Jupiter through the big telescope at the Griffith Observatory a few years back, it was really amazing! It was so cool to be able to see the big red spot, and even a few little moons.
  4. Correct on the Jupiter and Venus guess... Google has a Star Map app that works great with Android phones. My daughter was playing with it when we were driving home on last Saturday evening and she pointed out Jupiter and Venus to me.
  5. Could also be satellites. Some of them reflect quite a bit of light to earf.
  6. Jim

    Jim Moderator

    Thanks Gents!
  7. ouch

    ouch Moderator Contributor

    Venus is as bright as I've ever seen it, and Jupiter makes a rare easy-to-find appearance. These things always coincide with my daughter's birthday. The Hale-Bopp comet visited us to herald her birth.
  8. If you have a smart phone download the STARWALK app. Way Cool. It'll tell you whatever it is your looking at.
  9. I looked at the Star Rover app the other night with my kids, and we saw they were Jupiter and Venus. If you looked the other direction, Mars was also visible as an orange-colored light.
    Beautiful nights for star-gazing lately!
  10. +1 Mars will be riding close to the moon again tonight, it's bright orange and can't be missed. Mars reached opposition on Saturday and will slowly begin to fade again over the coming months.

    Set a reminder on your calender for March 13th to see the Jupiter and Venus conjunction at it's best, they will be about 3 degrees apart (about 3 moon widths to the naked eye) right after sunset.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2012
  11. SWMBO and I have remarked on them too--they really cut right through the City lights--and she thought the larger one must be Jupiter. This led me to wonder how Jupiter's being a gaseous giant affected its reflectance. Time to haul out my 7 x 50 binoculars and tripod...
  12. Big solar flare hits tonight. Could be spectacular.
  13. The "larger" one is Venus. That is, the closer and brighter one.
    In astronomy terms, reflectance is albedo. An albedo of 1.0 means that 100% of the light that strikes it is reflected.
    Venus has an extremely high albedo (~0.67) in the visible spectrum with its constant cloud cover. Jupiter is pretty high too (~0.5).
  14. Actually Venus is the brighter of the pair, even though it's much smaller than Jupiter it's a heck of a lot closer to earth.

    Your 7x50 binoculars will also show you Jupiter's 4 largest moons, very cool to see if you haven't before.
  15. Thanks for the clarifications. Yes, I have seen Jupiter's four moons 2-3 years back. Just was outside and things are a little bit hazy right now. Looks like the weather will be clear here on Saturday night. So I'll have a go with friends then.
  16. From LA Times story on the solar flare:

    The coronal mass ejection is expected to hit the Earth at about 1:30 a.m. Eastern time Thursday -- with a margin of error of plus or minus seven hours.
    But if they're lucky, in the wee hours of Thursday morning, residents of northern New York and Idaho -- or even Illinois if the conditions are right -- could be treated to auroras, those colorful light displays in the nighttime sky that are usually confined to the high and low latitudes.

    From Space.com:

    Over the next couple days, Kunches estimates that brightened auroras could potentially be seen as far south as the southern Great Lakes region, provided the skies are clear.
  17. brianw

    brianw Moderator Emeritus

    heavens-above.com is fantastic for satellites and everything else. Configure for your area and start looking up.
  18. While Jupiter is going on it's merry way, it's worth taking a close peek at Venus this week with some binoculars as it passes through the Pleiades.

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