Naturalist Jennifer Rupp loves, loves, LOVES astronomy! There’s a big event coming up. Let her tell you about it….(and be sure to watch the awesome video she’s linked to)
I had the best mentor in Astronomy a kid could ask for growing up. His methods, patience and ideas influence the way I think and plan for teaching others about astronomy to this day. I used to ask him questions incessantly. One of my favorite topics was aliens. “Have you ever seen a UFO?” I would ask. “The folks who aren’t familiar with the sky are usually the ones who see ‘space ships’. They don’t realize that they may be seeing something that’s supposed to be there!” he would reply.
Well everyone, be prepared. Near the end of this month, and the first part of June, there will be something happening in the Northwest for all to see! And no, they aren’t UFO’s! They’re three of our solar system’s planets in the sky together. Mercury (the planet so close to the sun that it never appears in the sky very high), Venus, and Jupiter will appear near each other, and over time move closer before going their separate ways. Keep in mind, this is all three dimensional, so they only APPEAR near to each other. Some days, there will be an astronomical conjunction. That means that they appear on the same lines either in Right ascension or Declination (basically the latitude and longitudinal coordinates of the sky). It will be an impressive sight. If you’d like more information, you can find a video depicting the phenomenon, as well as much more information about exciting sky happenings here:
Keep an eye on the Indian Creek Nature Center’s calendar for family friendly astronomy programs.
Consider joining an astronomy club in your area! It will open your mind, and help you realize that the sky is more than two dimensions! For all of you here in Cedar Rapids, the local astronomy club can be found at: http://www.cedar-astronomers.org/ .