Years ago I had the pleasure of using a low powered telescope. I managed to find Juiter and then further away in the darkness was Saturn. It was amazing, the Rings were tipped up so they were much more visible than when they are in the a more horizontal plain. It was tiny, so small, but I could see it wavering slightly in the night air. I think Galileo thought it looked like it had ears?
To see planets with your own eyes, however small they appear is wonderful. The time it takes for the light to get to us means you scan look into the past. So it’s almost like time travel too!
If you ever get the chance, look up and see the sky….
For instance, this is the just after full moon. Its in the same place in the sky as it was over the last few days, but not at the same time! I know the Earth and Moon orbit each other, and the moon is tidally locked with us. Which means it has one side always facing towards us. But as I say its in about the same place, but each day its a bit later, so after 5 days it’s moved from being there at 2am to 6am…..
Think about it. The Earth rotates in 24 hours, if the Moon is coming up later each day it must be going round the Earth at a certain speed. I don’t have the mathematic skill to work that out but if it takes 6 days to move 4 hours then if you multiply 4×6 you get 24 (hours) for it to end up in the same place so if you multiply 5(days)x6 you get 30, which is approximately a month to get to the same place in the sky and appear again at 2am. The Moon waxes and wanes while doing this. From that you can tell approximately where the sun is in relationship to us. If the half moon, and all the other phases are facing one way before full moon, the Sun is on the lighter side of the Moon. If its curved the other way as the moon starts to go away from full, then it’s on the other side. You can guess when the sun will rise from this, the smaller the area of brightness the more to the side of the Earth the sun must be. I can’t work out whether the sun would be rising sooner or later depending on its phase. I can see in my mind that if you were looking at both Earth and Moon from space they would be lit from the same direction, but sometimes you see the Moon in daylight, so I don’t know how that works. I think I would need to start drawing very long thin triangles, based on say a quarter of a centimeter on one side and 93 centimeters on the other two to work something out (based on the ratio of distances from the Earth to the Moon and the Earth to the Sun – .5:93…this is just scaling down the siz. I’m thinking in miles because I don’t know the distances in kilometers…. Its all got a bit complicated….
I remember once watching the moon every day for a week from the top of the hill, each day it got closer to the setting sun, till finally there was almost an eclipse. Somewhere on Earth there must have been an eclipse in the following day or so, but we missed it because the sun had already set.
We (the Earth) is heading towards a stream of bits of rock from a comet called 3200 Phaethon. This is what causes the annual Geminid meteor shower. It is expect to peak on December the 13th and 14th. The night before is the full Moon. But the Geminids are bright and can have brilliant fireballs during the shower so they may be visible even through the moonlight. The main problem in the UK is that its often too cloudy to see things like meteor showers. I’ve often stood outside and looked for meteors, but seen nothing.on one occasion long ago we drove off into the night to see if we could get out from underneath the cloud. We drove from Stoke to Buxton and Macclesfield, but to no avail. Apparently they had a good show in Liverpool that night. But we missed it.
Meteor showers can appear at all times of the day, but are best viewed at night. As the Eath turns different bits of it can be pointing into the comet debris at different times of day. Generally they are more visible after local midnight, but one part of the world may see nothing and another part several meteors a minute. It can also be dependent on the width or narrowness of the dust stream.
Happy viewing, wrap up warm!