Home Science Space 2008 says goodbye, 2009 says hello with night sky treat

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And, on New Year’s Eve (Wednesday night) the planet Venus will be shining brightly just below the Moon.

Astronomers calculate that the two celestial bodies of our Solar System will be seen as only about two to four degrees apart.

Three degrees is about the width of the stem of your champagne glass held as arm's length (but make sure you drink your contents first so you don’t spill your sparkling wine).

Then, to the right and below the Moon-Venus planetary pair will be the Jupiter-Mercury planetary couple, with them being seen by us on Earth as only about one to two degrees apart.

Check out the Sky and Telescope magazine’s sky map of the three-night celestial event. Go to “This Week's Sky at a Glance .”

To top off your New Year’s celebration, go out at midnight, and look to the south.

The brilliant star Sirius (the Winter Star and also called the Dog Star), about 8.6 light-years away from Earth, will be shining brightly with the Orion (The Hunter) constellation to its upper-right and Procyon, the brightest star in the Canis Minor constellation (about 11.4 light-years away), to its upper-left.

In addition, the planet Saturn is located to the left, in the eastern sky.

To download a sky map from the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere, go to Astronomy a Go Go!.

So have your selves a Happy 2009 New Year and ring in the new (and hopefully much better) year with stars, a moon, and plenty of planets!

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William Atkins

William Atkins completed educational degrees in science (bachelor’s in physics and mathematics) from Illinois State University (Normal, United States) and business (master’s in entrepreneurship and bachelor’s in industrial relations) from Western Illinois University

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