This week, just after sunset, we can see an amazing grouping of planets in the western sky. From May 24 until May 29, Venus, Jupiter, and Mercury will fit within a 5 degree circle – less than half the width of your fist held at arm’s length! On May 26 these planets will be within 2 and one half degrees of each other – only half the apparent distance between the pointer stars of the Big Dipper!
A few weeks ago on the iseechange report, we covered the story of orchardist Will Beezley’s journals from the 1930s, 40s and 50s that are being transcribed on thealmanac.org by local farmer Amber Kleinman. Through reading the journals, Kleinman not only learned about historical farming and weather in the North Fork, but also caught a glimpse of Will Beezley’s life. Now that life has been further illuminated by Beezley’s grand-nephew, Larry Beezley.
“Hey, can you see the flag in that thing?!” It’s a question that makes us wince when observing the moon at astronomy outreaches. The answer is…Maybe if you were aboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter… but, all six of the flags are now faded to white, and the first one blew over when the Apollo 11 lunar module blasted off departing the moon.
From our backyards, the moon, our closest celestial neighbor, is easily observed by the unaided eye as it moves through its changing phases. During the next two weeks, the moon will move from new to nearly full.
Saturn…The ringed planet. The sixth planet from the Sun; second largest in the Solar System behind Jupiter; and the one that evokes the most vivid images in our thoughts. It is an unforgettable sight, even in a small telescope.
From now until early May, Saturn will be the brightest it has been for more than 5 years. It rises in the east as the Sun sets and will be visible all night long.