Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Jupiter and Venus

Current work: nonfic and Modern Heat
Listening to: Sibelius
Reading: Next on TBR

Son has been burbling about Jupiter and Venus getting closer (two degrees apart on 1 December – that’s actually 500 million miles in real space terms) and making a wonderful conjunction with the moon so the three of them looked like a smiley face. Wonder what kind of predictions the old soothsayers would’ve made on seeing this?

Son says he saw the smiley face, but didn’t tell me because I was working. (Er, this is actually a very good reason to interrupt me - as opposed to ‘she’s looking at me’ and sibling squabbling. Cue one grumpy mum.) Although I didn’t see the smiley face, I did see the two planets fairly close together later in the week and looking very bright. However, my pic was handheld and a too-short exposure, so it was too blurry. (Have temporarily mislaid my tripod – not sure whether son has borrowed it or whether it’s on the area formerly known as my desk and currently known as the bearpit.)

There is an interesting theory that the Star of Bethlehem was actually a conjunction of Jupiter and Venus, with the two planets right next to each other. (In terms of the naked eye, that is.) The next conjunction is 11 May 2011 (morning) and then March 2012 (evening). And the next partial solar eclipse (with more than 50% of the sun obscured) visible in the UK is on 4 Jan 2011 (starts at sunrise, max eclipse 08:11) or 20 March 2015 (max eclipse at 09:00).

Kate Nerdy in ramble mode? Er, no. I found a fabulous link. If anyone is doing background research into solar eclipses, there’s a fabulous tool here at NASA showing eclipse data from 1500 BC to AD 3000 (i.e. if you know the city and you know which year you want to look up, you can find out when the eclipse was/is predicted to be visible).

4 comments:

Jan Jones said...

V interesting, Kate. Let's hope the planets smile down at you some more in the coming year.

Biddy said...

I saw them last week but from where I was it wasn't a smiley face. It was still really cool standing on the platform of Kingston station staring at the planets.

Kate Hardy said...

Jan - I hope so, too. I'd like a nice, QUIET, happy year.

Kate Hardy said...

Biddy - amazing that they're so bright they can even be seen in the city, isn't it?