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Jay Ryan Discusses Saturn and Venus

I love knowing what all the lights in the night sky are.  Reading the Bible, I’m realizing how closely people lived with nature thousands of years ago.  For example, they had no electric lights to block the night sky, so they understood how the moon and stars marked the times and seasons as God had created them to do.

Here’s a little bit about this week’s night sky from Jay Ryan at Classical Astronomy who has kindly given me permission to quote from his newsletter:

Look to the western sky this week, in the dusk twilight after sunset.  You just can’t miss the bright evening star, Venus.  In the current season, this glittering celestial jewel is hanging low above the treetops as night begins to fall, to the south of the place where the Sun has set.  Venus is the third brightest object in the sky, after the Sun and Moon, so it’s an easy object to spot. 
Once you spot Venus, try to notice the little “star” approaching from the upper left.  This is the planet Saturn.  From night to night over the evenings this week, Saturn will draw closer and closer to Venus, finally making its closest approach on the evening of Thursday, September 19, the night of the Harvest Moon.  After spotting this conjunction of Venus and Saturn, turn around to see the Full Moon rising in the opposite end of the sky, above the eastern horizon.

Some readers might have learned that Saturn is many times larger than Venus, and might wonder why the enormous ringed planet is so much fainter.  This is because Venus is much closer to the Sun, and thus more brightly illuminated.  Venus is also much closer to the Earth.  However, Saturn is very far away from our world at this time, about 10 times the distance from the Earth to the Sun.  
Saturn is about to pass behind the Sun, as seen from the Earth, and it is on the opposite side of the solar system from us.  So take your last look at Saturn for a few months, as it will soon be lost in the Sun’s glare.  But if you’re an early bird, you’ll be able to see Saturn in the morning sky before sunrise sometime in early December. 


For more tidbits like this, sign up for Jay’s astronomy newsletter.  If you wish to become familiar with the night sky and understand it the way it was understood long, long ago, check out Signs and Seasons:  Understanding the Elements of Classical Astronomy, Jay’s excellent homeschool curriculum.

Disclosure:  I am just sharing information about a topic I love.  As always, I am not compensated for mentioning resources.

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