4. Starry Starry Night: Jupiter and Venus

Jupiter to the left, Venus to the right (photo by Vickie Quigg)

My eyes have been drawn to the heavens the past few nights, pulled there by these two bright stars in the sky. I suspected they were planets, but as I’ve been woefully out of touch with any news sources this week, I had no idea what a significant event was forming.

And then the stars aligned.

I gathered for a celebratory happy hour with seven of the most fabulous women in my life, just after work. Toasts made, tapas eaten, we ventured into the warm night just as God was lowering the lights. By the time I made it home, Jupiter (there on the left) and Venus (bright on the right), were shining forth in some pretty spectacular glory. I got out of my car and stood in the driveway, mesmerized.

Eventually I made my way inside.

And then I went back out. To look, again.

Once more, to the kitchen. And still a third time I ventured out, this time with a camera (and a not-very-successful-attempt at night photography).

What I didn’t know until today is that March 15th marked the pinnacle of a very special night-sky show. EarthSky puts it like this:

The whole world can see the two bright lights in the west after sunset now, but, for the Northern Hemisphere, mid-March 2012 presents the best time to see a Venus-Jupiter conjunction in the evening for years to come. At mid-northern latitudes, these two brightest planets – Venus and Jupiter – stay out for nearly four hours after sunset. That’s about the longest period possible at these latitudes.

March 15, 2012 presents the exact date of conjunction, when these two worlds have the same right ascension (like longitude on Earth) in Earth’s sky. But Venus and Jupiter are close throughout the month of March 2012. They are like twin beacons – two very bright planets – near each other in the west as soon as the sun goes down.

What I also did not realize is that looking in the opposite direction—East—you can see the planet Mars, which won’t be so brilliant again in our sky until April of 2014.

What a fascinating world we live in, don’t you agree? What a miracle I find this universe to be. And all you have to do to experience it, day or night, is simply look up.

A special thank you to my dear friend Vickie Carter Quigg—for so many things, really—but especially for letting me use her fabulous photo, above.

30 Days of Grace II

8 thoughts on “4. Starry Starry Night: Jupiter and Venus

  1. I saw it that night too!! Thanks for the background information and these planets. I will spend more time outside looking up!

  2. When I asked our good friend, Bill Womble, why he thought so many of us were posting sky photos. He answered, “Because it’s always available and right outside your door? Doesn’t run away, move suddenly or get impatient? Is versatile and dynamic, rife with ever-changing texture, color and brightness? Harbors the simplest of beauty up to the most complex mysteries of the universe?”

    Yep, I think that’s it.

    xoxo

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