I almost forgot to check the eastern horizon this morning. I hit the off button instead of the snooze button so I started awake around 5:30 a.m. in a near panic for oversleeping. As I rushed around the house getting ready for work, my brain finally dislodged this tidbit I had read via Astronomy.com sometime over the past weekend:
Wednesday, October 3
Venus dominates the morning sky all week after it rises around 3:30 a.m. local daylight time. It shines at magnitude –4.1, which makes it the brightest point of light in the sky, and climbs more than 25° above the eastern horizon an hour before sunrise. Be sure to watch for it this morning, however, because it passes just 7′ (one-quarter of the Full Moon’s diameter) south of Leo the Lion’s brightest star, Regulus. This is the closest any planet approaches a 1st-magnitude star during 2012. A telescope will show both objects in the same field of view. Look closely and you’ll see Venus’ 16″-diameter disk, which appears about 70 percent lit.
I had to re-attach the tripod mount to the bottom of the Pentax camera because I had used it the night before to try my new binoculars with the tripod mount attachment. The waning moon hung just over the roof of my house as I stood in the driveway setting up the tripod and camera. I could see bright Venus with my naked eye (of course, it’s the brightest thing in the sky besides the moon) but I wasn’t sure I could see Regulus without some optical aid.
I peered through the tiny viewfinder in the camera and could clearly see Regulus above Venus. I took several photos, only one of which I liked well enough to label, upload and use in this post (see above). Not many other stars are visible in the photo above, but here’s the sky chart for the eastern horizon from my location as of the date/time the photo was taken:
I did not drag either telescope out of the house and into the driveway. I didn’t have time to re-assembly Dob and the ETX-90 just takes too long to setup, align, configure, etc. I did use my new binoculars, without a tripod, and looked at Venus and Regulus, Sirius, Orion’s Sword, the Pleiades, Jupiter and its moons and our own satellite (although I saved it for last as I became blinded by its light with just a quick look).
With rain forecast for Friday and possibly Saturday, I doubt I’ll be stargazing much this weekend. I may take advantage of the KC Renaissance Festival’s discount on tickets for an inclement weather forecast and the pirate themed weekend events.
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