Sunday, September 01, 2013

Venus at dusk...

This afternoon we said good bye to our youngest son who had been home for a much needed break after a full summer of college courses.  It was so good to have him home for a while, and he and I took evening walks most nights at dusk or later --dark-thirty.  As we walked and talked, we pointed out satellites flying by, constellations, the Milky Way and we noticed bright Venus in the southwestern horizon.  It's just beautiful to see Venus setting with a pinky-orange sky as her backdrop. 

We noticed the extra-bright milkiness of the Milky Way.  With a moonless night, the Milky Way is brighter now than usual.  I like how Akira Fujii describes it from one of my favorite sky-gazing sites, Sky & Telescope:

The Sagittarius Teapot and the surrounding rich Milky Way are highest in the south right after dark at this time of year. The brightest puff of the summer Milky Way seems to rise like steam from the Teapot's spout. All of the labeled objects here and many more are good binocular targets under a dark sky. Click the image for a larger view.

~Akira Fujii
Have you ever used binoculars to sky-gaze?  It's fun.  When the moon is in its various phases and not full, you can see so many craters and mountains with just a good pair of binoculars.  You can see the moons around Jupiter and get a close look at other planets when they are in view.  One October night when the kids were young, a friend brought her telescope out to the ranch.  She wanted practice using it and needed a sky with no street lights invading it.  We had such fun looking at the moon and planets and some of the brighter stars, and it was then that I found out that you could use a simple pair of binoculars to get a really good look at the night sky.  No need for expensive equipment.  Our family spent many nights looking through binoculars with arms anchored to the pick-up box to get a steady, close look at nearby planets, stars, a few comets, and the moon.  Check this link  and this one for articles on using binoculars for sky-gazing.  One of our most useful books for learning the constellations back in our homeschool days was H.A. Rey's book, Find the Constellations.   We also used the Sky & Telescope website a lot.  The "Sky at a Glance" link became a well-worn tool to guide us in our sky-watching.  I've just come upon this book:  A Child's Introduction to the Night Sky.  It looks like a book I may want to buy for the grandkids and for myself.  The book and a pair of binoculars would be a great family Christmas gift, I think.
Do you like to Sky-watch?
Psalm 19

1The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.


  1. How exciting to see this post, when I am headed for the mountains and their bright and starry skies in just a week! I hadn't thought until now about the possibility of taking some star-gazing helps along with me, for when I lie on my back on the deck at night and get friendly with them. Thanks!

  2. Do get out the binoculars at night! I have a pair that are 8x42 and the brand is Vortex, given to us by a hunter-friend. I see great with them at night and I wear glasses. Have fun getting cozy with the stars on the mountain tops!

  3. Beautiful! Come to think of it, Jeff left his binoculars here. When we have a clear night (and I'm still up!) I shall view the sky. Thank you! I hope your sweet son has a wonderful school year.

  4. We forget how beautiful the night sky is because of all the lights of the city that make it hard to see the stars, etc. When we were at my nephews wedding in So. California recently way out in the middle of nowhere we stopped the car turned off the lights, hopped out just to enjoy the sky so full of stars that were visible to us. We were in awe. We'll have to do some star gazing the next time we visit our son in Eastern Washington...
    God bless your son's new year of studies. I know it's hard to say goodbye...

  5. Thank you for the information on our night sky! Such a great idea to have the grands learning as well ... and the website is full of awesome information. We will refer to it often. Happy Day!

  6. Lovely! Isn't it sweet that the instruction you gave your son those years ago now produces great conversation and enjoyment of nature, as you walk together? That was certainly an investment in years to come :) Julia will study astronomy next year, and I know she will enjoy nights on the boat on the river, gazing and learning there.

  7. I have binoculars by my window but have not thought to use them at night. It might be too light here...but for the suburbs our neighborhood is unusually dark, enough so friends complain about it. Ha. No complaints from me, but then I know where I am and where I'm going.
    I'm glad you got to enjoy night walks and talks with your son. Schooling all summer is hard. I hope he has a great year!

  8. Miss Gumbo...Do you know that I never ever saw a shooting star, an orbiting satellite or the Milky Way until I saw it from your prairie? I live where the city lights mask these nightly wonders.

    I'm so glad you had the opportunity to hang out with Youngest Son. Precious times!

  9. I fear we don't get a good view of the stars here in our little city. But up in the mountains? Amazing! My husband is a lifelong stargazer, and one of his first gifts to me was a star chart.


  10. Well I do love night sky watch but it does not get dark enough. I bet at your house, it is perfect for it!! Clarice

  11. So interesting Jody! I saw Venus just last night and I was wondering what planet it was. Thanks for all the fun info!

  12. I'm writing this on a beautiful, clear and moonless night. The stars are glorious! I never knew that you could use binoculars for night-skywatching. I'll have to try that!


I love reading your comments. Thanks for stopping in. Sorry, but due to spam, only registered users can comment.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...