The Sky Tonight – Feb 28
March 1, 2009 3 Comments
I hope everyone was able to see the spectacular conjunction between Venus and the Moon. Even to this sometimes jaded astronomer, it was quite a sight to see. Right now it is the highlight of the year so far. But as nice as it looked, there will be an even better Venus-Moon pair-up in 2 months. You’ll need to get up in the early hours of the morning, but mark April 22 on your calendars. On that date, all of North America will see the Moon and Venus even closer to each other. And for central and western North America, the Moon will pass in front of (or occult) Venus. As a teaser, here what the view will be from Tucson at 5:00 am on April 22. Note, Mars will also be nearby with Jupiter visible many degrees away.
Tonight, the Moon has moved quite a bit away from Venus. It will not be quite the striking site it was last night but should still be impressive. A chart showing the relative position of Venus, the Moon, Comet Lulin, Saturn and the brighter stars can be seen below.
Comet Lulin continues to move rapidly to the west. Remember it was only a few days ago when the comet was right next to Saturn. Last night it was practically on top of Regulus, the brightest star in Leo. If you haven’t seen the comet, don’t wait. The comet is still at its brightest but will start to fade rapidly. That and the bright Moon for the next 2 weeks will make Lulin a tough site to see without a good sized pair of binoculars or telescope. Right now Lulin is a difficult naked eye object from a very dark site and an easy binocular object from just about anywhere.