Archive

Archive for the ‘Conjunction’ Category

12/24/2019 – Ephemeris – Was this the star of Bethlehem?

December 24, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Christmas Eve, Tuesday, December 24th. Today the Sun will be up for 8 hours and 48 minutes, setting at 5:06, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:18. The Moon, 2 days before new, will rise at 7:41 tomorrow morning.

Many writers of the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD place Jesus’ birth around 2 BC, which had to be before Herod the Great’s death, which I suggest was in 1 BC marked by to a total lunar eclipse. So the Star of Bethlehem could appear several years later than the triple conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in 7 BC that’s been popular. In 3 and again in 2 BC there were star-like conjunctions or apparent joinings of the planets Jupiter and Venus against the backdrop of constellation of Leo the Lion. A lion is related to Judah, son of Jacob by a blessing the latter gave his 12 sons in Genesis. The first conjunction occurred in August of 3 BC in the morning sky. In June the next year the two planets got together again, this time in the evening sky, a month or more after Jesus would have been born in the lambing season of spring.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

August 12, 3 BC conjunction

Here is an animation created using Stellarium of Jupiter and Venus, the brighter of the two seeming to coalesce on August 12, 3 BC in the early morning twilight. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

The second appearance of the "Star"

On June 16th 2 BC, this time in the evening, Venus and Jupiter seem to coalesce as one, at least to the naked eye.  The first few frames contain the Sickle asterism of Leo the lion’s head and mane. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

I have much more information on this topic in my December 2, 2016 posting: https://bobmoler.wordpress.com/2016/12/02/12022016-ephemeris-my-talk-about-the-star-of-bethlehem-is-tonight/

11/22/2019 – Ephemeris – Jupiter and Venus will appear to cross paths this weekend

November 22, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, November 22nd. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 20 minutes, setting at 5:08, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:49. The Moon, 3 days past last quarter, will rise at 3:55 tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow night the planet Venus will be just below Jupiter low in the southwestern sky not long after sunset. Jupiter is retreating toward the Sun four times faster than Venus is advancing from the Sun. Jupiter will pass in conjunction with the Sun on December 27th and enter the morning sky. Venus after this will pass Saturn on December 11th. It will become Christmas Star this year. Venus will continue moving away from the Sun until March 24th next year. While Venus is hanging around low on the western horizon now, in winter and most of spring it will be high in the western sky after sunset, our Evening Star. Saturn itself will pass into the morning sky January 13th.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Jupiter-Venus conjunction

Jupiter-Venus conjunction animation for 6 p.m. from Friday thru Monday November 22-25, 2019. Click on image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

09/03/2019 – Ephemeris – Yesterday and today conjunctions of Mars and Mercury with the Sun

September 3, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, September 3rd. Today the Sun will be up for 13 hours and 8 minutes, setting at 8:16, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:08. The Moon, 2 days before first quarter, will set at 10:59 this evening.

Yesterday morning Mars passed in conjunction with the Sun. For astronomers Mars was either just north or south of the Sun. In this case it was north of the Sun, moving from the evening or east side of the Sun to the west or morning side. Later this evening Mercury will pass in superior conjunction with the Sun. Mercury, being an inferior planet, that is one whose orbit is within Earth’s orbit of the Sun can pass between the Earth and the Sun in what we call an inferior conjunction or around the back side of the Sun in superior conjunction. In doing so Mercury is moving from the morning to the evening sky. Today the SOHO satellite will show both planets, the Sun and even Venus in its coronagraph.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Mars in the C2 coronagraph

Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) LASCO C2 Coronagraph image of the solar atmosphere at 8:24 p.m. September 2, 2019. A disk, called an occulting disk covers the bright Sun. The white circle is the size of the Sun’s photosphere. The white dot just about directly above the Sun is Mars, which is slowly heading to the right (west).

Venus and Mercury in the C2 coronagraph

SOHO LASCO C3 Coronagraph image of the solar atmosphere at 8:14 p.m. September 2, 2019. A disk, called an occulting disk covers the bright Sun. The white circle is the size of the Sun’s photosphere. Venus is the bright object to the left. It passed superior conjunction of the Sun back on September 14th. Mercury is just to the upper right of the occulting disk.  Both planets are heading to the left (east).

06-18-2019 – Ephemeris – Mercury and Mars will be seen together tonight

June 18, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, June 18th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 34 minutes, setting at 9:31, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:56. The Moon, 1 day past full, will rise at 10:49 this evening.

This evening the Planets Mercury and Mars will appear less than a moon-width apart in the evening twilight. Mercury, the brighter of the two, by a factor of 4 times, will be visible first, at about 10:15 p.m. very low in the west-northwest. Mars will be immediately below it by less than the width of the Moon. At that time they will be a bit less than the width of your fist held at arm’s length above the horizon. Binoculars are the best way to spot them. Mercury will continue to move eastward in the sky away from Mars. Until after it reaches its greatest separation from the Sun on the 23rd. It will then head back and pass at a much greater distance below Mars on July 5th. This is the best chance to spot Mercury in the evening sky this year.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Mercury-Mars Conjunction

Mercury and Mars this evening at 10:30 p.m., June 18, 2019. Created using Stellarium.

02/15/2019 – Ephemeris – Venus will pass Saturn Monday morning

February 15, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, February 15th. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 27 minutes, setting at 6:11, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:41. The Moon, 3 days past first quarter, will set at 5:21 tomorrow morning.

The planets Venus and Saturn cross paths in conjunction next Monday morning at about 9 a.m. This weekend you can watch them inch closer and closer together before sunrise. Venus is a whole lot brighter than Saturn and will be seen to move above Saturn Monday morning. As I noted on the Jupiter-Venus conjunction three and a half weeks ago, these two planets are nowhere close to each other. Venus will be 92.9 million miles (149.6 million km) away, about as far as the Sun. Saturn will be a bit over 1 billion miles (1.612 billion km) away, making Saturn almost 11 times farther away as Venus. The only effect this conjunction will have on me is that it will be a cool sight to see those two planets together in the sky.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Venus-Saturn Conjunction

Daily animation of the morning planets featuring the Venus-Saturn conjunction at 6:30 a.m. on February 16th through 19th 2019. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

01/21/2019 – Ephemeris – Venus and Jupiter will pass each other tomorrow morning

January 21, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, January 21st. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 23 minutes, setting at 5:35, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:11. The Moon, at full today, will rise at 6:23 this evening.

I hope you’ve been noticing the bright planets Venus and Jupiter in the morning this month on the few mornings that have been clear. Jupiter and Venus have been drawing together. And tomorrow morning they will pass each other. The event is called a conjunction. To astronomers it’s a cool looking event, where the planets happen to be along the same line of sight. They are nowhere near each other in actuality. Venus is 76 million miles (120 million km) away, while Jupiter is 555 million miles (894 million km) away. It doesn’t affect anything on the Earth. It’s just cool looking. After this, Jupiter will move farther and farther from the Sun, while Venus will appear to fall back towards the Sun, even though they both are traveling eastward against the stars.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter

Three day animation of Venus and Jupiter on the 21st, 22nd, and 23rd of January 2019. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

10/26/2018 – Ephemeris – Venus passes inferior conjunction with the Sun today

October 26, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, October 26th. The Sun will rise at 8:12. It’ll be up for 10 hours and 27 minutes, setting at 6:40. The Moon, 2 days past full, will rise at 8:19 this evening.

Later this morning the planet Venus will pass in inferior conjunction with the Sun, moving officially from the evening sky to the morning sky. Inferior conjunctions are when Venus is between the Earth and the Sun. We haven’t seen Venus for over a month, it setting too soon after the Sun to be spotted. It’s appearance in the morning sky will be much more sudden. On fall mornings the ecliptic, the path of the Sun and most planets is more vertical in the sky, opposite that of the evning sky, so that Venus will suddenly appear. Being south of the Sun, it will take 3 days, next Monday morning to rise with the Sun, but after that Venus will rise 8 minutes earlier each morning for a while. It should be easily visible in two weeks as the bright Morning Star

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Venus near solar conjunction
Venus and the Sun recorded by the Solar & Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) LASCO C3 coronagraph less than 24 hours before the actual instant of Inferior conjunction. Credit: ESA/NASA.