Look for a lunar tour of the planets starting on Christmas Eve

Look for a lunar tour of the planets starting on Christmas Eve

The weekend’s cold temperatures also brought clear skies that will make sky-watching a little easier. From Christmas Eve until the first week of the new year, the Moon will pass through each of the five visible planets.

As the sky darkens during the day, the old waxing Moon will be separated by about the width of two fingers of your outstretched arm from the first two planets of the Sun. With only 2% of the Moon’s face illuminated, it will be a challenge to see. The bright object on the right is Venus, just above it is small Mercury, currently 50% illuminated.

On Christmas Eve, the Moon will move between Venus and Saturn and on Monday night it will be next to the ringed planet. The tour continues Tuesday evening as the 25% illuminated Moon splits the distance between Saturn and Jupiter. Wednesday night, the now 35% illuminated Moon is just a few degrees to the left of Jupiter.

New study shows seasonal-like weather changes on Jupiter

Scientists have recently completed decades of studying the clouds that make up the colorful bands and continuous storms that make up Jupiter’s big eye. We know from the Pioneer missions of the 1970s that the color of Jupiter’s troposphere bands reveals temperatures. White bands are colder, reddish to brown bands indicate warmer temperatures. Decades of data from these missions combined with ground observations produced surprising results.

Published this week in the journal Nature Astronomy, the study reveals a pattern of rising and falling temperatures that is similar to the seasons. But Jupiter is not very tilted on its axis (only 3 degrees), so it does not experience seasons like Earth (23.5 degrees). Scientists also found striking similarities in temperature changes thousands of kilometers away.

“It’s similar to a phenomenon we see on Earth, where weather and climate patterns in one region can have a noticeable influence on the weather elsewhere, with patterns of variability seemingly ‘teleconnected’ over great distances across the ‘atmosphere,” senior Glenn Orton said. research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and lead author of the study.

Planetary weather researchers plan to use the data to make a longer-term prediction of the weather on Jupiter, which could help inform climate change research here on Earth.



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