Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Astronomy Awareness and The Star Poem by Jane Taylor


Three 1st-magnitude objects remain bunched together in the evening sky throughout August, although their relative positions change from night to night. On August 7, as shown here, they formed a triangle with Saturn at the top, Spica to the left, and Mars to the right.
Photo by John Chumack
Image and Astronomy Information Credit: Google.com



Tuesday, August 21

Our trio of bright evening objects — Saturn, Mars, and Spica — forms a pretty equilateral triangle (5° on a side) in the southwestern sky after sunset. But the highlight of the scene tonight is a gorgeous crescent Moon that hangs just 4° below Mars. Binoculars provide the best view of this celestial gathering. Look closely and you’ll notice the objects’ different colors. The Moon’s color depends largely on conditions in Earth’s atmosphere and could be anywhere from white (under a dry, haze-free sky) to yellow or even slightly orange. Sunlight reflecting off Saturn’s clouds has a golden glow while Mars’ ruddy deserts cast an orange hue. Blue-white Spica generates its own light from a scorching surface nearly four times hotter than the Sun’s.

Wednesday, August 22

Jupiter rises before 1 a.m. local daylight time and appears halfway to the zenith in the eastern sky as twilight begins. Shining at magnitude –2.3, the giant planet ranks as the second-brightest point of light in the sky after Venus, which rises more than two hours later. Through a telescope, Jupiter’s disk spans 38" and shows plenty of atmospheric detail. And this morning, you can watch the dark shadows of two of its moons as they cross the cloud tops. At 2:22 a.m. EDT, Io’s shadow first touches the planet’s limb. Europa’s shadow reaches the limb at 3:20 a.m. EDT. Io’s shadow doesn’t leave the jovian disk until 4:30 a.m. EDT, with Europa’s following some 70 minutes later.

     Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
     How I wonder what you are.
     Up above the world so high,
     Like a diamond in the sky.

     When the blazing sun is gone,
     When he nothing shines upon,
     Then you show your little light,
     Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.

     Then the traveler in the dark,
     Thanks you for your tiny spark,
     He could not see which way to go,
     If you did not twinkle so.

     In the dark blue sky you keep,
     And often through my curtains peep,
     For you never shut your eye,
     'Till the sun is in the sky.

     As your bright and tiny spark,
     Lights the traveler in the dark.
     Though I know not what you are,
     Twinkle, twinkle, little star.

     Twinkle, twinkle, little star.
     How I wonder what you are.
     Up above the world so high,
     Like a diamond in the sky.

     Twinkle, twinkle, little star.
     How I wonder what you are.
     How I wonder what you are.