Here’s how to spot the rare ‘Christmas Star’ on Monday
ROANOKE, Va. – You’ll want to make sure you don’t miss tonight’s astronomical marvel! Despite being 400 million miles away from each other Saturn and Jupiter will appear closers than they have since the 13th century. Since the event is happening so close to Christmas, many have dubbed the phenomenon the “Christmas Star.”In Southwest and Central Virginia here’s what to do so you don’t miss it! It takes Jupiter about 12 Earth years to do the same. (Credit: WKMG)The Great Conjunction occurs because Jupiter has the inside track while orbiting the sun in our solar system.
Beyond The Forecast: A minor meteor shower peaks tonight, will you be able to see it?
The shower gets its name from the constellation it originates from: Ursa Minor (also known as the Little Dipper). The minor shower peaks tonight and five to ten meteors per hour could be visible. Although the shower peaks tonight, it could still be visible through Christmas. The best night to view it this week may be Tuesday night, as we expect mostly clear skies overhead. In case you missed it, we’re posting great weather and science content on WSLS.com.
Saturn, Jupiter to appear at their closest in 800 years Monday night
ROANOKE, Va. – You may have seen on social media that “The Christmas Star” will be visible in the sky on the first night of winter. He explains, “The Great Conjunction is the appearance of Saturn and Jupiter coming very close to each other.”For weeks, the two have been getting closer together in the skydome. On the night of Dec. 21, however, Arav explains, “Separation between them will be about one-fifth of the apparent size of the moon in the sky. “We’ll have another close approach in 2080.”He also says that if clouds get in the way Monday to try looking Tuesday night as well. Whether you call it the Great Conjunction or the Christmas Star, it is a piece of extra brightness toward the end of what’s been a dark year.
Jupiter, Saturn to make closest conjunction in nearly 400 years just days before Christmas
ROANOKE, Va. – Before we get into the meat and potatoes of this article, it’s important to note that there’s been some hardcore clickbait out there regarding this month’s upcoming planetary conjunction. Having said that, we’ll take any additional brightness we can get in the final days and weeks of 2020. This planetary conjunction ought to do just that. In the nights prior to the ‘great conjunction,’ Jupiter and Saturn will appear closer together in the southwest sky about an hour after sunset. It’s definitely a needed dose of brightness in the final days of what has been a challenging year for many.
Your best bet for catching a breathtaking glimpse of the Leonid meteor shower this month
Have you heard of the Leonid meteor shower? It comes around every November, but the chances of seeing it this year are much higher than last year. The shower happens at the same time every year, when Earth’s orbit crosses the orbit of Comet Tempel-Tuttle, according to Space.com. A trail of dust is left behind the comet, and when Earth’s orbit crosses that trail, pieces of the comet fall toward our planet’s surface. Luckily for us, meteors are visible to the naked eye, and the shower will peak overnight Monday into Tuesday (Nov. 16-17) around 3 a.m.
Keep looking! NEOWISE remains visible in the evening sky this week
ROANOKE, Va. – *If you get any pictures of the comet, make sure to send them to us via Pin It. *NEOWISE is still visible in the evening sky. One thing to note is that many pictures on social media are taken with long exposure camera settings. Where to look for NEOWISE through next weekMake sure to allow some time for your eyes to adjust, as you would any time you’re gazing at the dark sky. You can also view and send pictures via Pin It.
Keep looking! NEOWISE continues to get higher in the evening sky this week
ROANOKE, Va. *If you get any pictures of the comet, make sure to send them to us via Pin It . The comet, NEOWISE, has now taken to the evening sky. When to spot NEOWISE in the evening skyIt will start low on the horizon this week and progressively get higher even through next week. Its best to get to a high spot, away from buildings and trees. NEOWISE and the Big DipperMake sure to allow some time for your eyes to adjust, as you would any time youre gazing at the dark sky.
LOOK UP! Comet Neowise visible next few mornings
ROANOKE, Va. We oftentimes tell you about the different planets you can see in the night and morning sky, but what about a comet? At that point, the suns light dims out the light of the comet. In talking with a friend and graduate student at Virginia Tech, Peter Forister , he was able to capture the comet on camera as well. He tells me it was visible to the naked eye between 4 and 5 a.m. Wednesday morning. This forms a glowing head with a trail of dust and gas forming the tail.
Venus shines brightest all week in the morning sky
ROANOKE, Va. – A lot of us had gotten used to seeing Venus shine in the western evening sky. In June, the brightest planet to grace our sky transitioned between the earth and the sun. Now, it shines brightly in the eastern morning sky, rising a few hours before the sun does. When the planet is about 25% illuminated by the sun is when it will appear at its brightest. It will also appear with a friend, Aldebaran, which is one of the brighter starts in our sky.
Not just fireworks! What’s happening in space this 4th of July weekend?
ROANOKE, Va. – While many fireworks displays have been canceled, there may be a few other things that catch your eye this holiday weekend! The full ‘Buck’ moon rises on the 4th, and it does so in conjunction with a few friends. Penumbral eclipse to occur this weekendThe last thing is something you won’t see. This is called ‘aphelion,' or the farthest point away from the sun in Earth’s annual orbit. Aphelion takes place this 4th of July weekendThis further proves that our seasons on Earth aren’t dictated by our distance from the sun, but rather the angle of the sun.
The last of four consecutive supermoons is coming Thursday
Supermoons happen when the Moon is at or close to perigee, the closest point in its orbit around Earth. 4 consecutive supermoons (5/6/2020) (WSLS)We’ll have four supermoons in a row again next year, 2022, 2023 and 2024. You may be wondering if these strings of consecutive supermoons are rare. There are sliding windows of time where supermoons happen three, four or five times in a row each year. If you miss Thursday’s supermoon, you won’t have another chance to see one until March of next year.
LOOK UP! Venus shines brightest all week in the evening sky
ROANOKE, Va. – It’s not at all rare to look to the west and see the planet Venus. In fact, it’s the second-brightest celestial body that we see in the night sky (second to the moon). This week (Apr 27-May 1), Venus will be at its brightest point Monday evening around 9. That’s good news for us in southwest and central Virginia, as we expect a clear sky around that time. To Venus’ left, you’ll see the moon so you can use that as a reference point.