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 Post subject: Re: Breaking News: PLANETARY ALIGNMENT
Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2011 8:48 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Pretoria
Okay, firstly, I know nothing about the stars and planets except that they look much prettier from the KNP than from Pretoria :D

But I do have a question:

I'm on the road early morning from around 5:45 to 6:15 every weekday morning, driving more-or-less in a easterly direction through Pretoria the whole time. Last week and the week before I've noticed 3 "stars" in a L-shape, about 30 to 40 degrees above the horizon, in about a east-north-easterly or north-easterly direction (is this the way to express position when talking about stars?). The corner "star" was very bright and large in comparison with the others. The "star" on the end of the "long, upright leg" (the "top star") of the "L" was medium in size and brightness. The star on the end of the "foot" of the "L" was relatively small and not very bright. This last mentioned star disappeared as soon as the horizon started lighting up from the rising sun. I've noticed that over the course of the two mentioned weeks the "top star" moved further and further away from the other two stars so that where the two "legs" of the "L" was about equal length when I first noticed it, the "upright" leg became longer and longer until it was many times as long as the "foot" of the "L". I assume this "top star" as well as the "corner star" were planets and not stars as the "top star" changed position so quickly, and the "corner star" were (are) so bright. Any idea which planets they are?


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 Post subject: Re: Breaking News: PLANETARY ALIGNMENT
Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2011 9:46 am 
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Honorary Virtual Ranger
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Location: Red sand, why do I keep thinking of red sand?
Looks like Venus, Mars and??
Check this site: http://neave.com/planetarium/

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 Post subject: Re: Breaking News: PLANETARY ALIGNMENT
Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2011 12:50 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Pretoria
That's a very nice website DuQues! Thanx for the link :D

Once I "paged" to the right dates (14 May) and time (6:00) (and got my directions rights - about halfway between the east and northeast from location -25, +28) it was obvious! And then paging through the following days showed the planet's alignment change exactly how I saw it happening "in real life" 8)

The "top star" of the "L" turned out to be Jupiter, the "corner star" is Venus, and the last "star" (which I thought was a star, but is actually also a planet) is Mercury.

I see by tomorrow morning four planets should be more or less in a crooked line: Jupiter at the top, then Venus, Mars and Mercury at the bottom. Will be looking out for them :D

:hmz: This is actually quite interesting! "Planet-watching" - something to do when it's too dark outside for birding (except with a spotlight of course). (Don't feel quite ready for the stars yet... :redface: )


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 Post subject: Re: Breaking News: PLANETARY ALIGNMENT
Unread postPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2011 8:23 pm 
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Thanks DuQues. :thumbs_up: On the ball as always ... :clap:

And, Dabchick, don't forget to pop into the Beginner's Stargazing Quiz, the Advanced Stargazing Quiz, and the Astronomy Quiz (under the quizzes forum), and come chat to us there. We have a small band of enthusiasts that can help with many of your questions. :dance:

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 Post subject: Re: Breaking News: PLANETARY ALIGNMENT
Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2011 5:47 pm 
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Had a good look a the evening sky up
at Punda Maria. What a sight to see.

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 Post subject: Astronomy in the News
Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2011 9:01 am 
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Location: Johannesburg - where they cut down trees and name streets after them.
Quote:
Nasa's Kepler telescope finds planet orbiting two suns
An artist's conception of Kepler-16b, which orbits two stars An artist's conception of Kepler-16b
Continue reading the main story
Related Stories

Kepler spies Saturn-sized worlds
Nasa launches Kepler telescope

A planet orbiting two suns - the first confirmed alien world of its kind - has been found by Nasa's Kepler telescope, the US space agency announced.

It may resemble the planet Tatooine from the film Star Wars, but scientists say Luke Skywalker, or anyone at all, is unlikely to be living there.

Named Kepler-16b, it is thought to be an uninhabitable cold gas giant, like Saturn.

The newly detected body lies some 200 light years from Earth.

Though there have been hints in the past that planets circling double stars might exist, scientists say this is the first confirmation.
'Stunning'

It means when the day ends on Kepler-16b, there is a double sunset, they say.

Kepler-16b's two suns are smaller than ours - at 69% and 20% of the mass of our sun - making the surface temperature an estimated -100 to -150F (-73 to -101C).

The planet orbits its two suns every 229 days at a distance of 65m miles (104m km) - about the same solar orbit as Venus.

The Kepler telescope, launched in 2009, is designed to scour our section of the Milky Way galaxy for Earth-like planets.

"This is really a stunning measurement by Kepler," said Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institution for Science, a co-author of the study.

"The real exciting thing is there's a planet sitting out there orbiting around these two stars."

Kepler finds stars whose light is regularly dimmed, which means there is an orbited planet between the star and the telescope.

Nasa's scientists saw additional dips in the light in both stars at alternating but regular times, confirming the dual orbit of the planet.

The finding was reported in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14940885

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 Post subject: Re: Breaking News: Astronomically Speaking
Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 12:40 am 
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Brilliant news, JenB! Thanks for bringing our attention to it. :thumbs_up:

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