Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Evening stars and planets

It was a perfect evening for a walk in the Garden. The cooler than normal weather subdued the insect and amphibian songsters, but we enjoyed nice temperatures, clear air, and good company. As a group of adults, we were able to (quietly) explore the Garden's forest, look at wildflowers, and listen to birds, as light faded to dusk and then dark.

As we finished our walk, the stars started appearing, along with an incredibly bright planet to the southwest.

We puzzled about the orientation of the Garden (hmm, I'm great with directions and spatial remembrance but have trouble with knowing which direction is north, south, or elsewhere).

This Google Earth view shows our orientation!

Coming home, the moon was huge and luminous, remarkable for spring.

Poking about on the web, I discovered that Mars was our mystery planet.

This from Stardate Online:

This Week's Stargazing Tips

April 28, 2010 The brightest stars of Libra stretch to the upper left of the Moon as they rise in late evening. The closer one is Zubenelgenubi, while the more distant one is Zubeneschamali.

April 29, 2010 Mars stands high in the southwest at nightfall and looks like a bright orange star. As it drops toward the horizon after midnight, its celestial "rival" climbs into view in the southeast: Antares, of Scorpius, the scorpion, whose name means "rival of Mars."

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