Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
January 25, 2006 7:20 AM   Subscribe

I stepped out of the house this morning, 'bout 6am or so, and gazed into the glow of a rather stunning crescent moon, crisp and pure. Sitting atop the moon, a distance of about one moon's diameter, dead center, was a star. Was it a star? Was it a planet? Oh how it twinkled... and the combination made for a curious astronomical alignment.
posted by Witty to Science & Nature (9 answers total)
If it twinkled then it probably wasn't a planet.


Wednesday, 1/25
Moon / Antares, 7:00 a.m.
The Moon passes just a couple of minutes of arc from Antares, but this is after sunrise in many locations. Try observing before dawn. From parts of South America the Moon occults (eclipses) this bright star.

posted by bondcliff at 7:26 AM on January 25, 2006

Oh, and if that type of thing gives you a chubby, like it does for a lot of us, you can find out what's coming up on their Sky Calendar.
posted by bondcliff at 7:28 AM on January 25, 2006

There are sites (and software) that will generate maps of the sky based on your location and the time.

Here is one I just found, Your Sky.

That might help verify bondcliff's observation.
posted by toftflin at 7:43 AM on January 25, 2006

Sitting atop the moon, a distance of about one moon's diameter, dead center, was a star.

I saw the exact same thing at the beginning of December, looking at the night sky from the highest point of Higham Hill Recreation Ground in Walthamstow. It felt kind of magical, because I'd got back to the UK that day from the States after flying out for my partner's funeral, and the moon/star alignment made me feel as if he was watching over me.

It was beautiful.
posted by essexjan at 8:32 AM on January 25, 2006

If it twinkled then it probably wasn't a planet.

I always assumed that the atmosphere would make anything twinkle. Cool. (here's a link about why stars do, and planets don't, twinkle) From the link:
The reason is that stars are so far away that they are essentially points of light on the sky, while planets actually have finite size. The size of a planet on the sky in a sense "averages out" the turbulent effects of the atmosphere, presenting a relatively stable image to the eye.
posted by misterbrandt at 8:33 AM on January 25, 2006

You also might have seen a relatively slow-moving satellite, though I bet you that bondcliff is right - lucky!
posted by sablazo at 8:36 AM on January 25, 2006

I saw that too! The moon was so crisp and bright - I could faintly see the part of it that wasn't lit up. I also wondered what the star/planet was. I figured that it had to be a planet because it was so bright (and slightly reddish in color).
posted by MsVader at 10:52 AM on January 25, 2006

Ah, but if it was really really bright and not right next to the moon, it could have been Jupiter!
posted by Lynsey at 3:12 PM on January 25, 2006

Response by poster: (and slightly reddish in color)

Yes, it was. I was hesitant to put that in my original description since I wasn't completely sure, thinking that maybe the lights from the city, etc., might be the cause of the reddishness.
posted by Witty at 7:53 AM on January 26, 2006

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