Sights Astronomical


First, check out the small moon Pan’s influence on Saturn’s Rings.

 

Second, when the sun goes down the next few nights, check out the planetary gathering near the western horizon: Venus, Mercury, and Saturn. The three are aligned within an area the size of a fist held at arm’s length. That doesn’t happen more than once or twice a century. Be sure not to delay too long; these planets are very close to the horizon and will set soon after the sun does. Instead of that extra cup of coffee, make sure you take time to get to a place that doesn’t have too many trees in the way.

By the way, have you ever wondered if the planets ever occult one another–merge in the sky to briefly form one bright object? Astronomers have summarized these events, past and future. Don’t think they weren’t noticed in the past. Mars and Jupiter merged in 1170, an event recorded in England and China, though not in telescopic detail the web site provides. The most spectacular conjunction occured in 2BC, and was visible throughout the Middle East. Draw your own conclusions there.

A near miss of Jupiter and Saturn in 2020 could be seen in a telescope’s field of view. I’m marking my calendar for this one. Maybe it will be the sign to call Vatican III.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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