This Halloween, Try Stargazing
- Monday, October 27, 2008
Venus, the Moon, and Antares - October 31
The summer constellation Scorpius is currently drawing west toward the sunset with the annual progression of the seasons. Meanwhile, the bright planet Venus is currently rising higher in the western sky as it emerges further from behind the Sun. Also, the Moon continues its monthly swing around the Earth, tracing its circular path across the sky. They all meet this month.
Each month, the Moon passes bright Venus as these bodies fall into the same line of sight as seen from the Earth. This month, on the evening of Friday, October 31, the Moon lines up near the bright first magnitude star Antares, the brightest star in the constellation Scorpius, not far from bright Venus.
The next evening, November 1, the waxing crescent Moon will make its closest pass of Venus, coming to within six lunar diameters of the bright planet. If your area is blessed with clear skies, be sure to observe this beautiful passing.
There might be some out there that wonder if there is any evil, mystical significance to the fact that these bodies line up on the evening when the world celebrates Halloween. We have always counseled Christians that astrology is a silly, antique supersitition, and that these alignments mean nothing at all except that these celestial bodies are following the paths ordained by the LORD. The fact that this conjunction occurs on October 31 means nothing more than a date on the calendar. As the LORD spoke through His prophet: Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. - Jeremiah 10:2
For more information on our approach to these subjects, check out our Pagan Influences? series.
Venus and Jupiter Approach
Keep watching Venus and Jupiter throughout the fall. Venus and Jupiter are both visible in the evening sky. Jupiter is currently drawing toward the Sun as the Earth swings around the other side. Meanwhile, and Venus is currently emerging from behind the Sun and pulling away from the sunset with each passing day during the month of November.
Throughout November, Jupiter and Venus will appear to draw closer together. Over a span of weeks, Jupiter will be lower in the southwestern sky after sunset while Venus will be higher.
Finally, on the evening of December 1, Venus and Jupiter will make their closest approach, and will be a pair of glittering celestial jewels adorning the evening sky in the fading twilight. If that's not exciting enough, Jupiter and Venus will be joined by the four-day-old waxing crescent Moon. So the three brightest objects in the sky after the Sun will be sparkling over the western horizon in evening twilight.
Folks, this is an excellent opportunity to observe the clockwork of the heavens in action. Make it a point to notice Jupiter and Venus draw closer on clear evenings throughout November. Tell your friends, family, and neighbors and share this info with your homeschool support group. People are always amazed to see the planets and this is a rare show that you won't want to miss!
This article is from the Classical Astronomy Update, a free email newsletter for Christian homeschoolers. Jay Ryan is also the author of "Signs & Seasons," an astronomy homeschool curriculum. For more information, visit his web site www.ClassicalAstronomy.com.
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