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Venus and Jupiter in conjunction

John Mallinson

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I'd been wondering what those very noticeable "stars" in the night sky for the last few weeks had been - at one stage, they were sitting in a very nice alignment with the "toe" of the new moon. Now I know.

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I keep looking at them and being reminded of the Flanders and Swann song "My Horoscope" :) :


"Jupiter's gone into Orion, and come into conjunction with Mars

Saturn is wheeling across infinite space to its pre-ordained place in the stars

And I gaze at the planets in wonder

At the trouble and time they spend

All to warn me to be careful

In dealings involving a friend."


Flanders and Swann, At the Drop of Another Hat (I think)

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Just had another look. Always amazed at Venus - unmistakable. I could also see Jupiter's moons through a birdwatching telescope.


Had a leisurely scan at other jewels in the current night sky. Starting from Venus and Jupiter, and moving westwards, through south and over to the east, we have:


First, the bright winter constellations - Orion, with its two bright stars Rigel and Betelgeuse, its belt, and the nebula just below the belt (can see it with binoculars). The belt points up to Aldebaran in Taurus - carry on a bit further and the Pleiades star cluster is also visible to the naked eye (impressive through binoculars). Orion's belt points down to Sirius, the brightest star, in Canis Major - also unmistakeable, very bright, and being low, it twinkles a lot (unlike the planets). Completing the winter group are Procyon in Canis Minor, Castor and Pollux (the twins) in Gemini, and Capella in Auriga.


Then, moving east, the sky is duller. The main feature at the moment is Mars, which appears as the brightest object in the constellation Leo - bright, orangy-red, and it doesn't twinkle.


Finally, above the eastern horizon, another bright star, twinkling like mad, all colours, orange, green, blue: Arcturus, lying at the end of the arc of the handle of the Great Bear (or the Big Dipper - always looks like a big saucepan to me, and at the moment it's standing on its handle). Sighting Arcturus in the east is as much a confirmation of Spring as sighting the first swallow.

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It was glorious last night, marvellous visibility, although I couldn't work out where Orion had disappeared off to. The Big Dipper was very noticeable.


Venus and Jupiter seem to be moving apart pretty quickly now, though.

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