Tonight’s sky (January 17, 2011) —- Find the waxing gibbous Moon (96% illuminated) surrounded by the stars of the bright Winter Constellations (Auriga, Taurus, Orion, Canis Minor, Canis Major, and Gemini). This beautiful celestial view will climb up to the zenith at around 10 PM local time.
Image: Stellarium (You may download this free planetarium software here.)
In hopes of observing the Geminids again, I stayed over at a friend and fellow U.P. AstroSoc member’s house which has a roof deck in Marikina City.
As soon as we were at the roof deck, we immediately looked for the constellation Gemini. Even though the eastern sky was partly covered by thin, hazy clouds and the waxing gibbous Moon shone bright in the night, we were still able to find the stars of Gemini along with the stars of neighboring constellations. My friend, Bea who had her Canon 400D DSLR with her, began taking images of the night sky. You may click on the images to see a higher resolution.
In the northwest, our attention was also caught by the stunning Cassiopeia which was in a slanted “M” position above a dormitory building.
We scanned the rest of the sky for several more minutes and found not a single meteor. About half an hour later, we noticed that the cloud cover was getting worse and it was getting too cold outside. As we were starting to pack up and go inside the house, a lunar corona formed around the setting Moon.
According to Atmospheric Optics site, a corona may be seen when thin clouds partially veil the sun or moon. They are produced by the diffraction of light by tiny cloud droplets or sometimes small ice crystals.
The night sky is really full of surprises. 😀
Clear skies, everyone!