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The Urban Astronomer

Don't wait: Use your telescope now

14 Nov 2008, 00:25 UTC
Don't wait: Use your telescope now
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This month offers a great opportunity to dig out that old telescope that you've rarely used and put it to work. Jupiter and Venus are putting on a show that will be of interest to anyone who has ever marveled at the heavens. These two planets are moving closer and closer and at the end of November will form a very compact grouping with the crescent Moon. What will you see?Venus is brightening as it gradually moves closer to Earth in its orbit. Because it is nearer to the Sun than the Earth, it never climbs too high in the sky. For the rest of 2008 it is a brilliant evening "star", dominating the western horizon just after sunset. Jupiter, on the other hand, is much more distant from the Sun than the Earth and therefore over a year can be seen in all parts of the sky, moving gradually against the backdrop of stars but not nearly as quickly (from our Earth-bound perspective) as Venus. Jupiter has spent 2008 in the constellation Sagittarius and the diagram shows its present location, moving east of Sagittarius toward Capricorn.Each evening for the next few weeks you will be able to see Jupiter ...

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