|2015-6-23: Close Encounters of the Bright Kind ⬅︎ |
|The three brightest objects in Earth's night sky are the Moon, Venus and Jupiter. For the rest of June, all
three will be visible in our early evening sky.
The Moon will be waxing (getting brighter) and gibbous (more than half illuminated) as it moves from 1st
Quarter (June 23) to Full Moon (July 1). Each day, it will appear about ten degrees further east than the
before. For a better view of its features, use binoculars or a telescope.
Venus is the brightest of all planets in our sky due to its proximity to the Sun as well as to earth. It is also
brighter than all stars of the night sky including Sirius. If you use binoculars or a small telescope, you may
be able to see that Venus is only partially illuminated. It goes through phases like the Moon. It was these
phases that helped Galileo demonstrate that Venus goes around the Sun and not the Earth.
Jupiter is the second brightest of all the planets. Even though it is much further from the Sun than Venus,
its great size allows it to reflect a lot of light from the Sun. Use binoculars or a telescope to try to
spot its four largest moons: Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. These are known as the Galilean moons
because they were first seen and recorded by Galileo.
Venus and Jupiter will be visible in the western sky in early evening. They will be moving closer and closer
to each other in the sky until June 30th when they will be only one-half degrees apart -- less than a finger
width held a arm's length.
These three worlds will be putting on a bright show for the rest of the June, one not to missed!