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Asunto:[dxcolombia] Sunset Planets
Fecha:Miercoles, 31 de Agosto, 2005  18:51:58 (-0500)
Autor:Juan Manuel D la Hoz <hj1uuu.dx @.....com>

August 26, 2005: Something nice i s happening in the sunset sky. Venus and Jupiter, the tw o brightest planets, are converging, and they're going to be beautifully close together for the next two weeks.

see caption Step outside tonight when the sun goes down and look west. If there are no trees or bu ildings in the way, you can't miss Jupiter and Venus. The y look like airplanes, hovering near the horizon with th eir lights on full blast. (Venus is the brighter of the two.) You can see them even from brightly-lit cities.

Right: There was a similar close encounter between Jupit er and Venus last November. Pictured here, the two planet s shine over Tehran, Iran. Photo credit: Babak A. Tafres hi

Try catching the pair just after su ndown and just before the first stars appear. Venus and Jupiter pop into view while the sky is still twilight-blu e. The scene has a special beauty.

Whe n the sky darkens completely, look to the left of Jupite r for Spica, the brightest star in the constellation Vir go. Although it's a bright star, Spica is completely out classed by the two planets.

Venus and J upiter are converging at the noticeable rate of 1o< /sup> per day, with closest approach coming on September 1st when the two will be a little more than 1o apart. (How much is 1o? Hold your pinky fin ger at arm's length. The tip is about 1o wide .)

see caption

Above: A ma p of the western sky on Sept. 6, 2005. More sky maps: Aug. 26 , 27 , 28, 29, 30, 31 and S ept. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

When planets are so close toge ther, not only do you notice them, you'll have a hard tim e taking your eyes off them. They're spellbinding.

There's a biological reason for this phenom enon: In the back of your eye, near the center of the re tina, lies a small patch of tissue called "the fovea " where cones are extra-densely packed. "Whate ver you see with the fovea, you see in high-definition,& quot; explains Stuart Hiroyasu, O.D., of Bishop, Californ ia. "The fovea is critical to reading, driving, wat ching television; it has the brain's attention." Th e field of view of the fovea is 5o. When two o bjects converge to, say, 1o as Venus and Jupi ter will do, they can beam into your fovea simultaneousl y, signaling your brainâ€"attention, please!

After September 1st, the two planets separate, but the show's not over. On September 6th, with Jupiter and Venus still pleasingly close together, the slender cresc ent Moon will leap up from the sun's glare and join the two planets. Together, they'll form a compact triangle t hat will simply knock your socks off.

F eel like staring? Do.

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