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Archive date:  January 5, 2017

A Skyward Gaze

Happy 2017, an exciting year awaits us all!

The long, dark clear-skied evenings of winter provide excellent conditions for viewing celestial events.  Lately, Jupiter has been putting on a show.  In case you don’t know, it is the object in the nighttime sky that is currently the brightest, other than the moon, of course.

I believe that I was eight or nine years old when I first encountered a solar eclipse chart and realized there would be a total eclipse in 2017… and that I would be 61 years old. I have been anxiously awaiting this event for some time now.  Click on this link to get an animation of how the eclipse will look on August 21, 2017 at 1:27pm.

The solar eclipse is not the only reason for casting your eyes towards the heavens this year.  Here are a few tantalizing nuggets to keep your interest going.  On February 11, early risers may get a chance to see a comet swing by Earth. After rounding the sun in December 2016Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova will be heading back to the outer solar system.

On March 29, after sunset, interested persons should look toward the western sky to see the thin crescent moon forming a celestial triangle with Mercury to its lower right and the red planet Mars above the pair. What makes this event worth watching for, beyond the obvious display, is that the formation will help onlookers see Mercury at its brightest and highest in our skies; it is usually lost in the glare of the sun.

April 10 will be special, as the largest planet in the solar system will also pair up with the full moon. On this night, both objects will rise together in the east moments after the sun sets in the west. Jupiter makes yet another pairing, this time with Venus on November 13 at dawn. Look closely with binoculars, as the sun will quickly drown out the view.

By the way, if you’re more into looking down, we’re open Monday – Friday, 8a-4p all winter.  We are fully stocked…indoors!

David Bates