If you are an early riser and specifically an early riser on March 27th, you are in for one of the top ten sky events for 2022! This will mean getting up around 6:00 am "ish". Bob informed me about this event back in January saying,
On March 27th and 28th look to the east and you will see Venus, Saturn and Mars within 6 degrees of each other and the waning crescent Moon about 10 degrees to the west.
This will be a very beautiful sight against the pre-dawn dark sky.
Photo Credit: EarthSky.org
Over the years when looking at the night sky I've often wondered why I saw Venus blazing in the eastern sky in the early mornings and then sometimes I'd see Venus in the west, a bright object in the night sky after our Sunsets. Venus, I have come to learn, is known as a "wandering star" a "morning star" and an "evening star", (even though Venus is a planet). Venus is considered our sister planet, only in size, density and mass. It takes the Earth 365 days to circle the Sun whereas Venus takes 225 days to complete its orbit around the Sun. This is part of the reason for Venus showing up at times in our morning sky and then at other times in our evening sky.
Without getting too technical, Venus orbits the Sun inside Earth's orbit creating 'phases' from our perspective here on Earth. Considering Venus's orbit and our orbit around the Sun, along with the rotation of each planet and numerous other scientific explanations we here on Earth can only view Venus around our sunrises and sunsets.
A little confusing but Venus is one of those planets that appears to move from one side of the sun and then to the other. Again all of this is from our Earthly perspective. Astronomers talk about 'elongation from the Sun'. This is the greatest apparent distance from the Sun in our sky. When Venus has a western elongation from the Sun it is a morning star and with an eastern elongation, it is an evening star.
Venus emerged in early January of this year in our morning sky and reached its greatest elongation from the Sun on March 20th. This would be considered a western elongation from the Sun.
On March 27th and 28th, our crescent Moon will be glimmering below this grouping of planets, Venus, Mars and Saturn in our southeastern sky. The Moon will be last to rise at approximately 5:30 am.
This will make for a wonderful photo opportunity and observation of one of our top sky events for 2022.
There are several apps available to download on your mobile to learn about our night sky. Star Tracker is an accurate app and I have had many enjoyable evenings using the app to learn about the planets, constellations and stars.
This summer, we hope you will join us for a fun-filled stargazing evening here at the Nature Centre. We'll keep you posted! To quote Walt Whitman:
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle