Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sky News

Thursday's evening sky offered a stunning view of the 36 hour old crescent moon poised between Venus and Mercury. In all my years watching the sky, I've rarely seen the moon so young. On this night it was an extremely thin crescent in the western sky, not far behind the sun which was already below the horizon. Venus, which is the third brightest object in the sky, was above and to the left of the moon. We were fortunate to have a clear sky for the opportunity.

Maggie and i probably spent the better part of an hour marveling at the sight of these two nearby celestial objects before heading around the corner to see if we couldn't spot Mercury, which was just below the moon. Mercury is the most difficult naked eye planet to spot since it never moves far from the sun and is usually lost in the glare. Some very wispy low clouds obscured the view but as the evening progressed, Mercury was finally bright enough against a dark sky to shine through the haze.

I am an addicted sky watcher and have been for over three decades. Looking into the infinity of the universe always reminds me of both my own insignificance in the larger scheme of creation and of my good fortune to be a sentient being in that creation.

We tried photographing the sky from our balcony with our puny little camera and got this result. Not much to speak of but if you look hard enough, you'll see Venus just above the point of the tree and the crescent moon at 4 o'clock from Venus toward the roof line. For a much better view, go here. You might even see Mercury.