Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Early Bird Specials

The International Space Station made a pass over Bonaire this morning at about six minutes after six. I missed it, yawn.
But I did get out by 6:20 to see Venus and Mercury close together in the south east. On Monday, Venus and Mercury were exactly sided by side in the sky. Today Venus was to the lower right of Mercury.

I had to use binoculars to sport Mercury. Once I knew where it was, I could then spot it without the optical aid. If I had been out a little earlier, like 6:06, heh heh, the sky would have been just that little bit darker and I probably could have easily seen Mercury.

So have a look soon while Venus is pointing the way to Mercury. One week from today, on the Morning of March 5, the Moon, Venus and Mercury will make a nice little triangle in the sky. They say that an hour before your sunrise is a good time to observe these planets. The further south you live, the higher in the sky they will appear.

Of course one doesn't have to be an early bird to enjoy the Bonaire Sky Park, as the Bonaire Reporter calls it. (by the way, this week's new issue is online as a free sample!) Sandra and I did some back yard observing on Monday evening. There was a high haze and there were lots of clouds scuttling by at great speed. But on the plus side, Monday is barbecue buffet night at the Golden Reef Inn right behind us, so we were serenaded by their live music as we gazed skyward. The picture of Orion's belt and sword is from Monday night. The haze makes the bright stars stand out, which I find technically frustrating, but aesthetically pleasing.

Pierre and I headed out to the desolate south end of the island last night and were treated to some awesome views of the Milky Way running from Orion all the way to the Eta Carina Nebula down by the horizon. We weren't all that sure how the sky would be, but decided to make the "long drive" south just in case. There were annoying fast moving clouds much of the time, and the stiff wind was chilly, but there was an hour and a half or so where the whole sky cleared up and the views in Pierre's 10x70 binos were truly awe inspiring.

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