Venus Overtakes Jupiter

I thought I’d use the European racing term more commonly known in the States as ‘passing’ to refer to the progress Venus has made in the predawn sky this past week.

Saturday morning I woke up way too early for a weekend, but remembered reading something about Venus and Jupiter getting closer together.  Without reminding myself by actually looking the information up via Facebook or Twitter or Google, I threw on some clothes, grabbed the keys to one of the vehicles (didn’t care which one) and rushed outside.  It was still very dark, just after five o’clock (Central time zone).  I drove a block up a slight hill to my favorite eastern horizon viewing site (just to the east of Lansing City Hall) and waited … and waited … and waited.  I finally used my smartphone (which I never leave home without) to check when Venus and Jupiter were supposed to rise (using’s Tonight’s Sky mobile web page).  Continue reading “Venus Overtakes Jupiter”

Living on the Edge … of the Terminator

Sunset May Day 2011

I love sunsets and sunrises.  They can be dramatic and inspiring.  They can start my day off gloriously and finish my day with calm reflection and peace.  For my twenty-sixth installment to my ‘Thirty Days of Thankfulness‘ I wish to express my admiration and anticipation for the edges of the day: dawn and dusk.

When you look at the moon, except when it’s new or full, you can clearly see the terminator that separates the day (light) side from the night (dark) side.  As inhabitants of the Earth we can’t see our own terminator without the aid of an orbiting satellite or shuttle.  But we do experience this astronomical phenomenon twice a day.

On Earth, the terminator is a circular line with a diameter that is approximately that of the Earth. The terminator passes through any point on the Earth’s surface twice a day, once at sunrise and once at sunset, apart from polar regions where this only occurs when the point is not experiencing midnight sun or polar night.

The Earth’s Terminator, Wikipedia

I try to keep my camera (or any camera including my cell phone’s crappy one) with me, either in my car or in my purse, just in case I spy a particularly interesting or beautiful sunrise or sunset.  This time of year, I’m tortured on weekdays with gorgeous dawns and dusks.  Not tortured, really, but frustrated because I’m busy driving to work and can’t take a few minutes to capture the scene. At other times of the year, I can make it home in time to stage a session to photograph the sunset from a prime location.

I only saw one sunrise during our trip to North Texas.  As we were leaving Denton, just a few miles north on I-35, for the first time in days, the skies were clear and I was awake and alert and outside to see the first kiss of the sun break over the southeastern horizon.

Sunrise over North Texas
Sunrise over North Texas (Mon 28 Nov 2011)