More Travel Tips:
TATS 2MIN NEWS December 25 2013 CHRISTMAS CONJUNCTION IN SPACE
CHRISTMAS CONJUNCTION IN SPACE: Accordingto some scholars, the Star of Bethlehem might have been a close encounter between Venusand Jupiter. The two brightest planets in the night sky, merged, would have made a spectacleof Biblical proportions. This Christmas, NASA's STEREOB probe is observing a conjunctionof three planetsVenus, Earth and Jupiter: Unlike conjunctions of the distant past, thisone includes our home planet. STEREOB is located on the far side of the sun where itcan look back and see Earth along with other worlds in the Solar System. Only NASA's twinSTEREO probes, equipped with their high dynamicrange Heliospheric Imagers, can witness this kindof conjunction.
From STEREOB's point of view, Earth and Jupiterare less than 0.4 degrees apart, while all three planets fit in a circle 2 degrees indiameter. This meeting is not nearly as tight as the putative Star of Bethlehem conjunction~2000 years ago. At that time Venus and Jupiter could have been as little as 6 arcseconds(0.00166 degrees) apart. Nevertheless, the ongoing display is still special because it'sthe first quot;Christmas Star conjunctionquot; from space. Happy Holidays from STEREO! Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery CRESCENT VENUS: Wondering where to point thattelescope you got for Christmasé Here's a
target that will blow your holiday socks off:Venus. Like the Moon, Venus has phases, and at the moment it is a slender crescent. MaximilianTeodorescu sends this Christmas Eve photo from Targoviste, Romania: quot;I enjoyed another superb sunset with Venusdominating the southwestern sky,quot; says Teodorescu. quot;The bright planet was visible even throughcirrus clouds. Despite poor seeing conditions, the view through my refracting telescope wassuperb both at 30x and at 200x.quot; Every night the crescent grows thinner asVenus moves toward inferior conjunction with the sun in early January. Tonight, only 10%of the planet's illuminated hemisphere is
visible from Earth. Because Venus is so thin,refraction in our atmosphere can produce a rainbow effect as colorful as any Christmasornament. It really is a magical sight. More information is available from Sky and Telescope.