Peace for the Soul

A common space for harmonic peacemakers

Equinox Sky Show
03.19.2010

March 19, 2010: When the sun sets on Saturday, March 20th, a special kind of night will fall across
the
Earth. It's an equal night.

Or as an astronomer would say, "it's an equinox."
It's the date when the sun crosses the celestial equator heading
north.
Spring begins in one hemisphere, autumn in the other. The day and
night
are of approximately equal length.

To celebrate the occasion, Nature is providing a sky show.
It
begins as soon as the sky grows dark. The Moon materializes first,
a fat
crescent hanging about a third of the way up the western sky.
Wait until the twilight blue fades completely black and you will
see that
the Moon is not alone. The Pleiades are there as well.

The Moon and the Pleiades are having a close encounter of
rare beauty. There's so little space between the two, the edge of
the
Moon will actually cover some of cluster's lesser stars. According
to
David Dunham of the International Occultation Timing Association,
this is
the best Moon-Pleiades meeting over the United States until the
year
2023.

Above: A similar Moon-Pleiades conjunction photographed by Marek Nikodem of
Szubin, Poland, in July 2009.
The Pleiades are a cluster of young stars some 440 light
years from Earth. They formed from a collapsing cloud of
interstellar gas
about 100 million years ago. By the standards of astronomy,
that's really young.
The Earth under your feet is almost 50 times older. Dinosaurs were
roaming our planet long before the Pleiades popped into being.

 


Only about seven of the Pleiades are visible to the unaided
eye. The "Seven Sisters" are Sterope, Merope, Electra, Maia,
Taygete, Celaeno and Alcyone, named after daughters of the
mythological
Greek god Atlas. Together, they form the shape of a little dipper,
which
is why the Pleiades are often mistaken for the Little Dipper, an
asterism
of Ursa Minor.

Binoculars are highly recommended for this event.
First, scan the Moon. You'll see craters, mountains and lava
seas. Note that you can see the entire Moon, not just the
brightly-lit
crescent. The Moon's dark terrain is illumined by a ghostly glow
called
"Earthshine." It is the light of our own blue planet shining
down on the Moon.

Next, scan the sky around the Moon. The Pleiades come into
sharp focus---and they are more than seven. Dozens of faint
"sisters" can be seen through even modest optics.

This night doesn't sound equal. It sounds much better than
that.
Experience the equinox!
 

Views: 21

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Comment by tim max on March 21, 2010 at 1:07pm
wonderful ; kisses
Comment by Paula on March 21, 2010 at 6:21am
Unfortunately the rain was so heavy it didn't let you see a thing!
Comment by Michael J Masiko on March 20, 2010 at 10:34pm
so very cool!
I love this stuff.
suppose to be clear sky here
so maybe I'll do a picnic
on suicide hill.

Quote of the moment:

"PEACE
NOT WAR
GENEROSITY
NOT GREED
EMPATHY
NOT HATE
CREATIVITY
NOT DESTRUCTION
EVERYBODY
NOT JUST US"

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