Celestial spectacle

If the sky is clear in your part of the world, look south west just after sunset on November 30th or December 1st.

Two bright planets, Venus and Jupiter, will be having a stunning encounter with the crescent moon - a rare sight. (December 1st will be the best.)

And if you want to photograph the encounter, do it about half an hour after the sun has set.

If you take a picture any earlier, the sky will be too light and they won't show up very well.

Do it any later and the sky will be too dark. The planets will just look like dots of light on a black background and the moon will probably over-expose.

About half an hour after sunset is the 'Goldilocks time' - not too light and not too dark - when the sky is still a rich blue.

This was a close encounter between Venus and the Moon, one evening two years ago ...

============== There's a bonus for those in Europe ==============

If you live in Europe, and the sky is clear, you'll see the Moon pass in front of Venus, completely blocking its light. Astronomers called this a 'lunar occultation', and it is a rate event.

The sight of our neighbouring planet, popping out from behind the dark edge of the crescent Moon will be a remarkable one.

The exact time this happens depends on your location. Here in Geneva, Venus will disappear behind the Moon at 17:01h (local time), and will spring back into view at 18:23h.

If you are in a different place, you can find the approximate time from this website. Choose the location nearest to you and it should be accurate enough. Just remember, they give the times in Universal Time (UT) - which used to be the old GMT. So, to get the correct times for your place in Europe, you'll also have to allow for your timezone.

1 comment:

Alistair Scott said...

Darn! Missed it.

There was a thick covering of cloud.

But I got to see the encore this evening. Not as spectacular, but pretty all the same.