A changing night sky

CWAS members and visitors at the July 1 meeting. Tonight’s meeting will be the first since July’s highly successful 2016 AstroFest and is expected to attract many visitors. Photo by Alex Abbey. Most of the objects on the night sky don’t change their positions relative to each other in the night sky.
Nanjing Night Net

Consequently, the constellations such as the Southern Cross and Orion (you might call it The Saucepan) remain dependable patterns in the sky, year after year.

However, every now and again, two or more of the “moveable” objects (usually the Sun, Moon, the planets and the occasional comet) appear to gather in the same part of the sky.

In fact, these objects are lining up more or less behind each other, sometimes with hundreds of millions of kilometres or even light years between them.

However, because of the angle that we view them from on Earth they appear quite close together in the sky.

Astronomers refer to objects appearing close together in the sky as a conjunction.

Early rising readers may recall a conjunction earlier in the year where all five visible planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn) were strung out across the pre-dawn sky.

This week is a week of conjunctions.

For the next few weeks, the same five visible planets are again visible in the sky at the same time, this time in the early evening.

It’s a little rare to have a clear evening sky at the moment but last night you may have glimpsed bright Venus only six “moon-widths” from a beautiful thin crescent Moon, and Regulus (the brightest star in Leo the Lion) only four “moon-widths” from the Moon.

Tonight the planet Mercury will only be one “moon-width” from the Moon and brilliant Venus only two “moon-widths” from the Moon.

Tomorrow evening, Jupiter will appear to be almost touching the crescent Moon less than a moon-width away.

Anyone who would like to learn more about what can be seen in the night sky is welcome at the Central West Astronomical Society (CWAS) meeting tonight.

The CWAS meets at the Visitor Discovery Centre of the Parkes Radio Telescope (The Dish), off the Newell Highway approximately 26 kilometres north of Parkes at 7.30pm on the first Friday of each month (except January).

Members of the public are most welcome to attend and admission is free.

Further information about the CWAS can also be found on its website at 梧桐夜网cwas.org419论坛

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