Thursday, August 5, 2010

Three planets snuggle up


Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest, 
sun, moon and stars in their courses above, 
join with all nature in manifold witness 
to Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

The course of the stars and planets is wonderfully predictable and a reminder of God's faithfulness.

You'll want to take a moment in the next couple nights and step outside to look at the sky. As you scan the western horizon, you'll see a rare astronomical treat. With great precision, three planets will snuggle up close together in what astronomers call a "convergence." The brilliant planet Venus will appear alongside two lesser lights, Mars and Saturn.

Two-planet convergences are noteworthy, but three planets are quite rare. Of course, these planets will still be millions of miles apart from each other, but from our angle, they will form an exciting planetary trio in the sky. Space.com gives more detail:
A wide variety of different conjunctions and configurations involving the planets typically occur during the course of any given year. It is rather unusual, however, when three or more bright planets appear to reside in the same small area of the sky.  


...So far as viewing this upcoming planet cluster, the only drawback for prospective observers will be that these three planets will be visible for at best for only about 60 to 90 minutes after sundown before they start getting too low to the horizon to be readily observable.


...to avoid being disappointed, I would strongly suggest also using binoculars to scan the west-southwest sky for the three planets, especially if it is rather hazy (as midsummer evenings often tend to be). 


...on the evenings of Aug. 7-8, Venus, Saturn, and Mars will fit inside a 5-degree circle. Your clinched fist held at arm's length, for instance, is equal to roughly 10 degrees; the pointer stars at the end of the bowl of the Big Dipper are separated by just over 5 degrees).

Enjoy this rare celestial event, and remember the faithfulness of our God!

Related posts:

No comments:

Post a Comment