Conjunctions of the moon and the planets are quite special events.
A conjunction is an alignment of 2 or more celestial bodies (usually the moon and planets) in the sky, from our vantage point on Earth. The objects aren’t necessarily physically close to each other in space, but from where we see them, when the bodies are grouped close together on the sky we call them in conjunction.
When the objects get so close together that one passes in front of the other from our vantage point, we call that an occultation.
A conjunction doesn’t have any particularly special meaning, but they can be interesting to observe because very close conjunctions are quite rare events. It can be very exciting to see two planets in the same field of view of your telescope!
Not only that, but conjunctions, especially with the moon and/or bright planets are involved, are just a lovely spectacle to look at and photograph.
On February 25-26, the crescent Moon will join the other two brightest objects in the night sky to form a spectacular celestial grouping during and after twilight! They’re just a few degrees apart at the time of twilight in the west.
This will be a lovely sight to see.
All photos were taken by me using Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH2 digital camera.
I was in the open area of the Trinoma Mall in Quezon City when I noticed this close pairing of the waxing gibbous moon (99% illuminated) and Jupiter last November 10, 2011. These two objects were ~6 degrees apart.
I never expected to see this celestial conjunction as the sky was too cloudy that night. Fortunately, I have already set up the camera (without the tripod) by the time the clouds moved away.
I really love to see close pairings of bright sky objects like this one.
As I prepared to observe the Orionid Meteor Shower last October 22, a nice celestial pairing of the waning crescent Moon (22% full) and the tiny planet Mars greeted my view. These two were roughly 8 degrees apart during this conjunction and were located just slightly above “the Sickle” in Leo. Unfortunately, the glow from the light-polluted city made the 1.2 magnitude Mars (on the upper left of the image) difficult to notice with the naked eye.
Mars appears to be like a plain bright red star right now that rises in the east during the wee hours after midnight. In the months ahead, Mars will brighten and will also rise earlier at night. By December 2011, this planet will climb over the eastern horizon before midnight. In January 2012, it’ll be up by mid-evening, and even sooner on February 2012 evenings.
Mars will come closest to Earth in March 2012. It will be out from dusk till dawn, shining about nine times more brightly than it does at present. Even so, Mars won’t be nearly as bright as the planets Venus or Jupiter.