Keep Looking Up.

Source: Weather Underground

Source: Weather Underground

In spite of the end of daylight saving time I still get up before sunrise. I’m also still confused about daylight saving time and whether I should fall back and spring forward or spring back or fall forward and it doesn’t help that when someone tells me “We need to move the meeting time up an hour” they sometimes mean that the meeting scheduled for 2:00pm will now be at 3:00pm and sometimes they mean it will be at 1:00pm. And I would ask if we could stick to Greenwich Mean Time but I’ve been to Greenwich Village and time is a very fluid concept there, or at least it was in the days when bands played at The Electric Banana, but that’s another story.

For the past couple of months I’ve noticed Venus hanging in the East. Since it’s the third brightest object in the sky I always recognize it, but I had to consult Weather Underground’s Interactive Star Chart to confirm that the other two planets near it are Jupiter and Mars. As the fourth brightest object in the sky Jupiter should be obvious but I’m never sure unless I pull out my telescope and see the four Galilean moons.

This morning all three planets were in an almost straight line. Mars is dimmer than the other two but still stands out. My sleep schedule is still a little off from the time change but what greets me in the predawn hours makes it easier to get up.

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14 Comments

  1. Ray V.

    I observed the sky this morning as I do each day, as I walk to the curb to pick up the paper. Finally a clear morning in SC. If I recall, the three planets appeared a little closer together a few weeks ago. Have a great day.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’m glad you had a clear day. Those planets do seem to be moving closer together. I haven’t checked but they may be moving into conjunction which would be quite a spectacle.

      Reply
  2. Kristine @MumRevised

    As a non-star gazer, I had no idea that you could see that many planets in a clear night sky. Blew. My. Mind.
    What did they teach me in university if I didn’t come out knowing that??

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That’s a good question, but maybe you never took Astronomy 101 or any other class where it came up. And all but two of the planets are visible in the night sky. The exceptions are Uranus and Neptune which were only discovered after the invention of the telescope. Oh, and if you count Pluto as a planet then there are three that can only be seen through a telescope.
      Here’s another fun fact: Venus has phases like the Moon. That’s how Galileo knew the Earth revolved around the sun. He knew Venus had to be between the Earth and the sun.

      Reply
  3. Jay

    I drove home at 11:30pm last night, too tired to care, and drove back to work at 5:30am this morning, still too tired to care.
    I can only appreciate the night sky when I also see daylight.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That’s pretty depressing to miss the daylight. As Steve Martin said, “A day without sun is like…night.”

      Reply
  4. Gina W.

    I hardly ever notice the night sky. I think because we live in the suburbs and there are too many lights to really notice the stars. There’s a name for it, like “light pollution” or something. Which is a shame because it really is awe inspiring to gaze at the heavens. Your post is a good reminder for me to pay more attenion.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Light pollution is the term and it’s a real problem. Astronomers who use ground-based telescopes have to move to more and more remote places to get away from it. It also affects things like the migratory patterns of birds. And it’s amazing how powerful it is. When I have my telescope out in my backyard there’s a big difference in what I can see depending on whether my neighbor’s lights are on or off.
      Carl Sagan grew up in New York and became an astronomer because he wondered what the stars were. Good luck being able to see stars there now.

      Reply
  5. kdcol

    What’s this about being able to see the planets up in the sky at night? Where we live, any bright object spotted in the night sky is usually a satellite or maybe a plane. My parents live out in the country and it’s amazing looking up at the star-filled sky when we go visit.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Spotting the stars in the city or even a suburban area can be really tough. There’s an observatory here in town that hosts public viewing nights where they turn their telescopes on something interesting but the bright lights of the city are making that harder and harder for them. It really is nice to be able to go out into the country. My wife and I once went out to my sister-in-law’s place in the country to watch meteor showers. We took lawn chairs and sat out there with some friends. We saw some that were absolutely spectacular, like fireworks.

      Reply
  6. Margot

    That reminds me…I tried to observe the total lunar eclipse at the end of September. My son and I went outside every 5 or 10 minutes for 2 hours. We got to see the moon disappear but the gorgeous orange ball that was supposed to come after never arrived. What the heck?! Weren’t we supposed to be able to see it with a naked eye? I’m in a small city, but still have a nice view of the stars.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Yes, you should have been able to see the gorgeous orange ball. I don’t know why you couldn’t. That’s very strange. It doesn’t last long but going out every few minutes you wouldn’t have missed it. That reminds me of the first lunar eclipse I saw. I was just a kid and my father woke me up at two or three in the morning to go watch it. It was the middle of winter and very cold, but the low humidity makes winter the best time for stargazing. It was amazing not just to see it but to think about where we, the sun, and the moon were in relation to each other in space.

      Reply
  7. Ann Koplow

    I like looking up at your posts, Chris. The mindfulness exercise I did in tonight’s therapy group was a new one — I told people to look up. We saw the ceiling instead of Venus, Mars, or Jupiter, but we felt pretty aligned.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’m probably completely wrong but I imagine your ceiling decorated with those glow-in-the-dark stars and planets. And if not I’m sure there’s still plenty to see. There is no such thing as a blank space when we look with our imaginations.

      Reply

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