2017, September 30: Venus and Mars

Brilliant Morning Star Venus shines low in the eastern sky this morning. Dimmer Mars appears 3 degrees to the lower left.  A very close conjunction of the two planets occurs in 5 days.  Watch them close each morning until then.

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2017, September28: Venus and Mars

Brilliant Morning Star Venus shines from the eastern sky this morning during twilight.  Dimmer Mars appears 4 degrees to the lower left of Venus.  Regulus is now 10 degrees above Venus.  Venus passed the star a week ago.

Venus passes Mars in a week!

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2017, September 25: Venus and Mars

Brilliant Morning Star Venus continues to dominate the morning sky, although it rises about 2 hours before sunrise.  Dimmer Mars is 6 degrees to the lower left of Venus.  In 10 days (October 15, 2017) Venus passes the Red Planet.  Venus is over 200 times brighter than Mars.  (Click the image to see Mars clearer.)

The stars of the “Sickle of Leo” appear above the planets.  These stars represent the head of the celestial lion.  In his Celestial Handbook, Robert Burnham describes the historical association of these stars:

“This configuration was in ancient China the Yellow Dragon though on some other oriental star-maps it appears as a horse or a Great Chariot of Heaven.  To modern sky-watchers the Sickle outlines the majestic head and mane of a great westward-facing lion, crouching in the regal repose of the enigmatic Egyptian Sphinx.  The origin of the zodiacal lion is somewhat obscure though the Greeks identified it as the famous Nemaen Lion who is said to have originated in the Moon, and whose quest by Hercules constituted one of the Twelve Labors (pp. 1057,1059).”

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2017, September 23, 2017

2017: September 22: Equinox Moon

 

Just a few hours after the autumnal equinox,  the waxing crescent moon shines from the southwest during evening twilight.  Just past 2.5 days past its new phase, the night portion of the moon is gently illuminated by sunlight reflected from our planet.

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2017, September 20: Venus and Regulus

 

Brilliant morning star Venus passes about one-half degree (the apparent diameter of the moon) from Regulus this morning.  The reflected sunlight from Venus provides a clear contrast of color with Regulus.   Regulus is about 80 light years away and its color indicates that its surface temperature is about 20,000 degrees F.

Venus outshines Regulus by about 100 times this morning.

Venus and Regulus are in conjunction again on July 9, 2018 when they appear in the western evening sky.  The separation is about 1 degree nearly twice the distance of this morning’s conjunction.

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2017, September 18: Venus, Moon, Mercury and Mars

Brilliant morning star Venus is joined by the 28-day-old moon this morning. The star Regulus appears about 1.5 degrees below the bright planet. Elusive Mercury appears low in the sky. It is easily viewed without binoculars. Dimmer Mars about 1.5 degrees above Mercury and it is emerging from the sun’s glare. It appears near Venus on October 5th.  (Click the image to see Mars easier.)

Notice the earthshine on the moon.  The night portion of the lunar surface is gently illuminated by reflected sunlight from our planet.

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