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Unstrange Phenomena

03 May 2012

Astronomy: Tonite Trio Saturn, Moon and Star Spica Triple Threat

CREDIT: Starry Night Software
From Denny:  Does this month get any better?  We have a Super Moon on Saturday too.  Tonight, 3 May 2012, is a special treat for skywatchers about an hour after the sun sets.  Look up in the sky and you will get the special eye candy treat to behold a rare beautiful sight: a triple conjunction of the planet Saturn, the bright star Spica and our moon.

What is a conjunction?  It's simple.  It's just when two or more astonomical objects appear to be close together in the sky.  Of course, the reality is that they are definitely far apart but rather it is our perspective viewing them here on Earth that gives the suggestion they are so close together.

Astrologers and astronomers like to argue over whether a conjunction is significant.  The astrologers believe a conjunction can cause serious effects.  Astronomers take a more laid back approach and tell us just to look up and enjoy the beautiful sight.

Saturn is the farthest planet from the sun that we can see with our naked eye.  As a consequence, Saturn's movements in our sky are very slow.  Saturn has been hanging out int he constellation Virgo for a couple of years now, which is close to the star Spica.  But the moon is very close to Earth so it appears to jet skiing across the sky.

Tonight the moon will be far to the right of Saturn and Spica.  Tomorrow night it will be just the opposite, far to the left of Saturn and Spica.  That moon sure moves fast from night to night.  Enjoy the show 'cause these guys sure are enjoying a blowout cosmic party!

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