Skydance

Have you been enjoying the crescent moon this week?  It’s a bit bigger each night, as it moves away from its monthly passage between earth and the sun.

A week or so ago, early risers were treated to a crescent just about this same size, as the moon approached the sun from the other side – it was to the right of the sun as we see it in the sky here in the northern hemisphere, whereas now it’s to the left of the sun.

I missed the show, but those who woke a couple hours before dawn got to see the moon join a lineup of celestial delights: the Pleiades, Venus, Jupiter, and Betelgeuse (one of Orion’s shoulders).

For those in Europe, though, the morning held a special treat: the moon passed directly in front of Jupiter (an “occulation”).  That peaceful ol’ moon moves fast through the starry sky: just about its own diameter each hour, constantly sliding past stars and planets along its way. Just a few minutes after it zoomed by Jupiter, Christian Fattinnanzi caught an absolutely beautiful dance of five moons, a gas giant, and wispy clouds:

MoonJupiter2012 Fattinnanzi600

Here we see Jupiter and all four Galilean moons (the ones Galileo spotted with his telescope, and visible similarly to his view in any pair of modern binoculars):  Calisto, Ganymede, Io, and Europa.  Lovely!

About Jim

Night sky watcher; a mobile bit of earth's body. One foot lingering in Lower Cañoncito's piñon-juniper foothills at the southern tip of the Rockies, the edge of the Great Plains stretching away from the mouth of our little valley a couple miles downstream. The other foot re-rooting into the Land of the White Pines, home of my blood and bones, amidst the coastal plain and glacial hills and ponds of southern Maine, between the North Atlantic and the bones of the ancient Appalachian Mountains.

Posted on 2012/07/24, in Jimwords, Sky. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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