Tag Archives: Saturn

Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn & Jupiter Over New Hampshire, Wednesday, January 27, 2016.

by Anura Guruge


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From “Neave Planetarium“.

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A rather rare treat. 5 major planets, in conjunction — in nearly a straight line (clearly illustrating the nearly flat orbital plane, the ‘ecliptic’) — across the morning sky, Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Mars and Jupiter (in that order, left to right, South to Southwest).

Pluto is right below Mercury but not visible to the naked eye. The Moon, fairly full and bright, will be just to the right of Jupiter.

Trees will again be a problem for us in New Hampshire. Mercury could be in the tree line.

The planets are RISING from the South. Mercury, the last to rise, only comes over the horizon (but definitely in the trees) at 5:47 am Eastern. That is why I am suggesting around 6:30 am.

They keep on rising, BUT so does the Sun! Sunrise around 7:15. That will end the show.


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by Anura Guruge

Hoped For ‘Planet X’, The Ninth Planet, CAN NOT Be Named After David Bowie. Period.

by Anura Guruge


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Contrary to what many realize the officially recognized names of celestial bodies are carefully governed and assigned per some very strict guidelines maintained by the ‘International Astronomical Union’ (IAU) — an organization recognized by 74 world powers.

To have the supposed ninth planet (or any other planet in our Solar System) named after David Bowie he would have to be deemed a god.

Yes, there are those that will avow that David Bowie is a god. But, alas, that alone is not enough.

To be considered for planetary naming honors the god ALSO has to be a well established very long term player, such as Venus, Mercury, Jupiter or Saturn, and it has to be a MYTHICAL god. David Bowie is not mythical. So he is ruled out forever, forever.

The current convention is that Dwarf Planets are also named after mythical gods/goddesses THOUGH they don’t have to be, for obvious reasons, as towering as those assigned to the planets.

Comets, if named, are named after the discoverers or the ‘team’ that discovered them. David Bowie did not discover any comets.

Giving stars official names is now in decline and as with planets/dwarfs any and all OFFICIAL names assigned have to be mythical characters.

So the only option for having a (non-satellite) celestial body named after Bowie is to name an asteroid after him — and that has already been done! 342843 Davidbowie.


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by Anura Guruge

Saturn, Always Resplendent, Looking Like A Greenish Christmas Ornament Thanks To Back-lighting From The Sun.

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

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..by Anura Guruge


My last astronomy post:
Ξ  Mariner 2: 50 Years Since First Encounter … Dec. 15, 2012.


Our tax money put to good use, by NASA. Click image to access NASA and their write-up. This was taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft from the far side of this Gas Giant. Thank you, NASA.

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The Other Bright ‘Star’ In The Night Sky, Over NH, Is ‘Sirius’, Low To The East, Below Jupiter.

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

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by Anura Guruge


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>> That Bright Yellow ‘Star’ In The Night Sky Over New Hampshire, Is Jupiter — Dec. 3, 2012.


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Jupiter, given that it is invariably higher in the sky, will most likely be the bright object that first arouses your curiosity and awe.

If it is later in the night you might see a very bright, burning WHITE star, close to the tree line, maybe even glimpsed through the trees in the East. That would be Sirius, the Dog Star — the brightest star in the night sky. It is actually brighter than Jupiter. This serious brightness of Sirius is due to two factors: it is relatively nearby and it is big — twice as big as the Sun. It is 8.6 light years away. So what we are seeing now, in December 2012, is what Sirius was doing 8 years 7 months ago.

Many never think about this. Light thought it travels fast, still has a speed limit. So if an object is far away, it does take time before light from that object gets to us. Even Sun light takes 8.3 minutes to reach us. The light from Jupiter (i.e., sunlight reflected off Jupiter’s gaseous, yellowish atmosphere) takes nearly 35 minutes to reach us. So in reality when we look up and see Jupiter, we are not actually seeing Jupiter in ‘real time’. We are seeing Jupiter as it was 34.9 minutes ago. Think about that. You can have fun pondering this. ‘Rigel‘, the bright white star that makes up the leg of Orion, is ~860 light years away. So what we are seeing is light that left Rigel 860 years ago. For all we know Rigel could have exploded — supernovaed. It would be 860 years before we would see it.

So the next time you look up at the night sky remember that much of what you are seeing is in time lapse. Light that was there sometime before.

That Bright Yellow ‘Star’ In The Night Sky Over New Hampshire, Is Jupiter.

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

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by Anura Guruge


skyatnightdec2012

Click to ENLARGE.


If you were curious, or if the kids were asking, what you are most likely seeing is Jupiter. Other than the Moon, it is the brightest object currently in the night sky, over NH. It is hard to miss. Given its brightness it appears in the sky quite early — even at dusk. It rises in the East, moves a bit to the South but then continues across the sky, right through the night, to set in the West. Its position, at a specific time each night, say 11 pm, will change slightly — typically further to the West. This has to do with the relative orbits of us and Jupiter.

Jupiter, right now, is about as close as it ever gets to Earth. So it is atypically bright. I take out the dogs for their last little jaunt for the day around 10:45 pm each night. In the winter, if there are no clouds, I search out Jupiter. It always uplifts me.

Saturn, Venus and Mercury are also visible this month — but in the morning. So, I won’t see those.

We might also get some meteor showers this month.

If you don’t already have a favorite site for checking out the night sky, try this. It is accurate and easy enough to use. IF I ever get enough time I will do more posts on the night sky because astronomy happens to be another of my interests. More on that later. Enjoy.