Adrian Dening's Stars Over Somerset

    Monday 23rd to Sunday 29th May 2022

    If you're up before dawn, say from 4am on Thursday 26th, a thin waning Crescent Moon will be located to the east. To the left of that is planet Venus and to the right of the Moon you will find Jupiter and Mars. Even further to the right, looking roughly south east, you can find Saturn.

    Try the same trick around 4am on Sunday 29th and you will be rewarded by seeing Jupiter and Mars in conjunction.

    This astronomical term means that the two planets appear very close together. Of course it is just an optical illusion because of the angle you are viewing them from - in reality they are millions of miles apart!

    Technically speaking, the planets share the same Right Ascension. To identify a place on the Earth we use latitude and longitude. When looking at the night sky, astronomers use Declination which is the equivalent to latitude and Right Ascension for longitude.

    The end of May sees the beginning of the Noctilucent Cloud season. You can see them if looking towards the north west horizon 1 - 2 hours after sunset. The clouds are created by sunlight reflecting from ice crystals high in the upper atmosphere. They are too faint to be seen in daylight.

    The clouds may also been seen an hour or two before sunrise when looking towards the north east horizon, so if you are up early to witness the conjunction of Jupiter and Mars on Sunday 29th, that would be an ideal opportunity. To give you an idea of what you are looking for, I have included a photograph of the clouds over Varbla in Estonia, courtesy of Wikipedia.

    Screenshots courtesy of Stellarium
    Copyright Adrian Dening and Radio Ninesprings 2022

    May be an image of sky and text

    May be an image of sky and text

    May be an image of twilight, nature and sky

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