There have been lots of exciting things happening in the sky at night this winter. I havent been able to get many good views of them because either the weather wasn’t right or the moon was in the wrong place or I was just busy when the conditions were perfect.
I’ve been keeping a close eye on Jupiter and Venus getting closer together. They were very bright last night, but only just over the trees to the west of my house, so getting difficult to see. Venus definitely had not only a crescent, but ‘venuslight’ last night. Earthlight is the term used for the light on the dark side of the moon when it is reflected from earth. I’m not sure what Venus’s light is, although I have seen a theory that it is light refracted through its cloudy atmosphere.
Mars has also been amazing – reaching its closest point to Earth in their orbits the other night, when there were really good conditions. I could clearly see the polar ice cap and the red of the rest of the planet, although it was ‘wobbling’ a lot. I was advised last night this is due to the movement of the earth’s atmosphere and I could reduce it by using the cap on the telescope which has a smaller aperture available if needed. I’ll try that next time I get a chance, but the moon is full tonight so I may not get a chance.
A few months ago I spotted a trip with a holiday company I’ve used for many exciting and enjoyable adventures. It was to Spitzbergen for the total eclipse in 2015. It’s been stuck in my imagination even though it is fiendishly expensive. I was looking up stuff on the transit of Venus (which is on 5th – 6th June this year, after which there won’t be another till 2117) and found they did an even more expensive (but incredibly good value) trip to Hawaii to see that. The whole transit will also be seen in mid- and east Australia, Japan, Korea, etc, but only the first part if you’re in the US and the last gasp here in England. Sun rises about 4.40 and the transit will be finished by about 5.45. So an early start for me, and I’ll need to get somewhere with a good view of the horizon.
After that I looked at the Total Eclipse trip. You know, after seeing the cost of Hawaii, the eclipse looked really good value! So I checked a few things and looked up the dates of various things that need to be paid, and decided to book it. 1103 days to go. I’m trying to find a nice widget to count it down for me!