Tasmania's journal of discovery

Celestial alignment

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By SHEVILL MATHERS | There has been a lot of interest from the general community about the bright objects low in the western evening sky. These close gatherings of celestial objects in the night sky are not common sights and to have two clear nights in succession to record their changing positions is a real treat. The photograph above was taken about 6.30pm on September 6.

imageA night later I got this view, showing, from the crescent Moon — left the brilliant star, Spica, to the right the planet Venus, and below the Moon the planet is Jupiter.

On September 6 the thin crescent Moon was well below the planet Jupiter, however, the Moon rises earlier each day, so 24 hours later the Moon has almost caught up with Jupiter.

At 8:15 on the night of September 7, the Moon, shown below, was overtaking the bright planet Venus to its right, which is a spectacular sight through a low powered telescope or binoculars.

These are the celestial events that all amateur astronomers round the globe hope to see and if possible take photographs. Taking photographs of the objects is a fine balance to get the small fainter objects exposed without overexposing the Moon and Venus. In these images the dark side of the Moon is illuminated by reflected light from the earth, this is known as ‘earthshine’.

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Shevill Mathers runs the private Southern Cross Observatory Tasmania. He is Associate Editor of the “New” Sky & Space Magazine, and immediate past President and Editor of the Astronomical Society of Tasmania Inc

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