Sunday, 11 March 2012

Venus and Jupiter positively blazing in the sky tonight

I realise this might not set most people's pulse racing - but I was putting out the rubbish tonight when I noticed two very bright lights in the sky to the west. They weren't twinkling, so I assumed they were planets (as you'll all know, stars twinkle and planets shine).

I consulted a few websites and discovered that the lights were Jupiter (to the right) and Venus, both of which are super-visible at the moment. I know they don't look like much in the attached photo, but they're so bright and so close, their presence was actually quite disconcerting.

I used to enjoy gazing at the stars from our back garden before various neighbours decided they're so scared of the dark that they need to have their outdoor lights on all evening until they've plucked up the courage to go to bed (gee, thanks - don't mind us!), but now I only really pay attention when we're not in London (Cornwall's good for identifying stars and for being aware of the Milky Way). The fact that Jupiter and Venus leapt out at me despite all the surrounding light pollution suggests they must appear extraordinarilty bright away from urban centres.

They're meant to be around for the next couple of nights - just look west!


  1. Noticed it here in Bahrain too. A couple of years back, when I was still in Thailand, there was a similar alignment, with the crescent moon added in. It actually looked like a smiling face!

    But that thing about Cornwall. Yes, it's when you get away from the urban environment and its "light pollution" that you can really appreciate what the heavens have to offer!

  2. The most interesting of the regular night sky events I ever saw was a lunar eclipse about seven or eight years ago. The Moon didn't become totally dark, but was just cast into shadow - and suddenly, for the first time ever I became aware of it as three-dimensional object rather than as a flat disc. It hung - a solid ball - in the sky, and suddenly appeared impossibly close. Obviously I've seen comets and a solar eclipse and the Northern Lights - but they didn't match up to the Moon on that night. If we ever get round to leaving London, owning a dog and being able to watch the heavens on clear nights are the things I will most relish.