The Planets Align on the Outer Banks
[caption id="attachment_5723" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="6 planet alignment"]
I've mentioned astronomy on the Outer Banks
a few times on the blog, and to keep you updated on my stargazing, I have to fill you in on the most recent heavenly event I was able catch a glimpse of.
The sky is pretty big...for real, look up...big right? So, the Outer Banks isn't necessarily unique in the ability to witness stargazing events. What I see here, you can most likely witness in your neck of the woods as well. However, the OBX does offer fantastic star peeping conditions; quiet, desolate, and dark. I'm generally able to carve out a secret spot all to myself where I can get lost in the dark, and all I hear is the sound of nature as I peep the stars.
Today's stellar event definitely falls into the category of you should try this at home too. Are you aware that six planets are all aligned - and visible - right now?! Pretty sweet, right? And as a bonus, for the next couple days, you can also see a beautiful crescent moon mixed into the alignment.
Now, you do have to wake up bright (or should I say dark) and early, and the event probably won't knock your socks off, but it's pretty cool and worth the effort.
If you wake up a bit before sunrise and look to the East (i.e. where the sun will be rising), you can see the planets stretching along the ecliptic, the path the sun takes through the sky.
I woke up a little past 5 AM this morning, threw on a hoodie and headed outside to take a gander. It was a little cloudy, and a bit bright (I may try 4:30 AM tomorrow), but I was able to make out 4 of the 6 planets. Pretty cool.
Here's my picture to prove it. :) The dots on the horizon are lights, but if you focus real hard you may be able to make out Jupiter in the middle. I'll admit, not really an impressive picture, but I needed some proof!
[caption id="attachment_5722" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Outer Banks 5.6.11 - 6 planets aligned"]
PS - As a tip, you can tell a star from a planet when you look at it for a few seconds by determining whether the light is "twinkling." Stars twinkle, planets do not.
Friday, May 6, 2011