Jewels In The Sunset, June 19th

If you’ve looked at the evening sky shortly after sunset any time in the last couple of weeks, you’ve no doubt seen the two bright objects there.

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The dimmer one at the upper left is Jupiter, the brighter one at the lower right is Venus. Tonight the crescent moon has joined them, and it will be rising up and out of this view over the next three nights. But for this weekend, the three objects will be a spectacular trio.

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The other thing I noticed in looking at this 5 second exposure are the two “companions” to Jupiter. Click the image to enlarge it to full size and then take a look at Jupiter.

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Those dots in a line are some of the Galilean moons. The one on the upper left is Callisto, the one on the lower right is Ganymede, and just coming out of the glare of Jupiter on the lower right is a speck that might be Europa. Not bad for a quick setup on a tripod in the street.

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Zooming in on the moon not only shows us the ghostly green internal reflection in the lens, but also shows us the majority of the moon’s face illuminated only by reflected light from the Earth, known as “Earthshine.”

Go take a look tomorrow or Sunday if your sky is clear. Even after the moon moves out and up, Venus and Jupiter will be drawing together closely. By the night of June 30th, they’ll be closer than the width of the moon.

THAT will be spectacular.

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