Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Three Planets Line Up With Moon For New Year's Eve Spectacular!

Celestial Show Set for New Year's Eve

There will be no need for tickets to this celestial event where three planets - Venus, Mercury, Jupiter - will all be lined up with the moon. This display of planets and the moon occurs tonight! New Year's Eve! and should be visible for anyone who steps outside and looks to the southwest horizon just after sunset.

Venus is the planet that shines brighter any of the other planets and brighter than most stars (what we call the "Morning Star" is actually Venus). Venus will dangle just below the thin crescent moon in the southwestern sky. It'll be visible and almost impossible to miss just as the sun goes down if the skies are cloud-free in your area.

Just after sunset Mercury and Jupiter can be seen hugging the southwestern horizon (just above where the sun went down) and will be right next to each other. Jupiter is very bright and easy to spot, Mercury is fainter and more difficult to see, but it'll be just to the left of Jupiter. Jupiter and Mercury will set less than an hour after the sun sets, and you will need to time your viewing for just after sunset. A location with a clear view of the southwestern horizon without buildings, trees or mountains, and away from city lights will give you the best view.

And Saturday morning, about 3:00 AM EST, there is a chance for glimpsing some falling stars in a spectacular display by the Quadrantid meteor shower! With the moon a mere sliver the sky should be quite dark and show off the meteors. So if you are out late Friday night, or up early Saturday morning don't miss this chance to start off the new year with a big wish on a falling star!

What a great way to begin the new year with these celestial events!

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