Astronomical March Madness
So last night I came out of evening church services only to find people from my congregation staring at the sky. Indeed the stars were aligned in an “age of Aquarius” look. The crescent moon slivered its way across the middle of the sky. Like a saucer in the heavens, the waxing moon is once again the “king of the night time sky”.
On its upper left and lower right were two extraordinary lights. I immediately picked out Venus, the so-called evening star which is the second brightest object in the sky. Of course, Venus is not a star at all but instead a planet that reflects the sun’s light through our atmosphere. Astronomers refer to Venus as the “queen” of the night time sky.
The other bright object helping to illuminate the heavens was the planet Jupiter. Venus and Jupiter have been steadily creeping closer together in the night sky, as seen from Earth, over the last few months as they follow their own orbits around the sun. On March 12 and 13, the two bright planets will appear so close that you will be able to cover them with your fingertips, according to a NASA announcement.
This unusual formation is whimsically called a “planetary dance” and will be visible through the month of March on any clear night.
Unfortunately, after this Monday night when skies are again crystal clear, clouds will take over the night time sky for several nights in a row. We may not get another look at this heavenly alignment until next week. But not to worry, as the experts at space.com remind us, this is just the start of the night time dance and this 3-way tango will get even better the deeper we get into March.