A Diagonal and Some Uncommon Stars

Hey, Sky Fans! Last night, the skies cooperated a little, at least in the early evening, so I headed outside to grab a couple of photos on the way out to run a couple of errands with my daughter.

See, this is what happens when you try take pictures of the sky on a breezy evening with broken clouds and a bright street light just off to the side.

Mars is in there somewhere

So, a little while later, I went to a different spot to try again. The skies had cleared almost completely by then. I really wanted to get a couple of shots of this. When you have a couple of really bright stars, or in this case, a couple of planets, nearby it’s fun and interesting to watch the Moon make its way though a chunk of the sky over a few nights.

Get a load of this:

The southwest sky around 6:15pm December 5, 2016

There’s the Moon, Mars, and Venus in a polite diagonal line, just as promised. Our old friend Altair is off to the side. With every night that passes and pushes us further into fall, it still being in the sky along with the rest of the Summer Triangle seems a little bit more and more sarcastic.

What’s I really like here, though, is you can see two sort of medium-bright stars, Sadalsuud and Sadalmelik, the first and second brightest stars, respectively, in the big but fairly nondescript constellation Aquarius, the water-barer. As great as seeing the really famous, bright stars is, it’s good to give some attention to these less-bright ones, too. They can really be great, quietly twinkling alongside the other, more eye-grabbing, things. I still love seeing off-brand stars, testing my memory, then going back inside and checking against the books and charts to see how wrong I am.

If you remember from however long ago it was, we’ve talked about the eccliptic, the line, the path, that the Sun, Moon and planets appear to follow as they make their way across the sky. In the case of the Moon, you can get a great view of things moving because it slides along so quickly compared to everything else. That line, and, really, the Moon and planets, since the line itself is invisible, can be a great tool to find stars like these and help to learn the constellations.

Thanks for stopping by, and clear skies, everyone!


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