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Sunday, 4 January 2015

Reasons to like astronomy. Observing the night sky. What can you see?

Image from 24 march 2012.

Astronomy Essay. Part one.

Have you ever found yourself in the situation of looking at the night sky, perhaps unintentionally, and stay amazed watching it, wondering "what is that star?" and it seems to you at the time you want someone to be with you to tell you more about what you see, because you feel like you're naked in front of a Universe unknown to you. You begin to remember words, notions that you have heard by accident but not sure they have sense to you.

What can you observe on the night sky with the naked eye, binoculars or a modest telescope?

After dark, the stars begin to be seen, which in fact more likely are actually planets like Venus, Jupiter or Saturn.

Later, you see our Milky Way galaxy. If you are far enough away from city lights, you will see a bright band that is much brighter than the rest of the sky. That is because we exist in this galaxy, which is a system of stars, gas clouds and nebulae, collected in the form of a plate with a size of about 100,000 light-years from one end to the other, to 1,000 light years in thickness. We, existing in this galaxy and on through this plane, we see a very large number of stars. But when we look perpendicular to the plane of the galaxy, we see fewer stars. Therefore we can easily make the difference when we see the concentration of stars that we can not overlook.

If you live far from the cities, the Milky Way will be much brighter in contrast with the rest of the dark sky. It is important that the Moon is not in the sky, to admire this stunning panoramic view, because its light will cover considerable the visibility of these stars. Many people in town do not even know that the galaxy, about which only have heard in documentaries, is actually visible to the naked eye in the sky.

What else can we see in the night sky? The International Space Station (ISS), passing in the sky like a bright star, because the Sun light illuminates at that height the ISS, and the light reflection is observed by us down here, where it is already evening, morning or night. Also here we can see from the ground a lot of satellites that pass through the stars.

Other astronomical phenomena but natural that can be seen with the naked eye, are the planets, which most consider them simply stars. Venus, for example, is a planet that is very bright in some periods, more than usual. Seeing its brightness, some people consider to be an UFO.

Often planets appear close together in the sky, at the so-called conjunctions. Planetary configuration changes with time. When two or more planets are very close, are the most observed moments of sky lovers. Of course, these conjunctions can be anticipated by consulting the calendar of astronomical events. (see the astronomy calendar for 2015).

Two phenomena: Earth light illuminates the dark side of the Moon, and the Moon-Venus conjunction on 1 December 2008. Credit: Lupu Victor.

Some nights, the Moon will amaze you more than usual. For example, when the light starts to decrease for a New Moon, or for a Full Moon surely you have noticed that its dark side, is visible. This is because the light of the Earth reaches the Moon, and the Moon reflects the light back to us. If you would be on the Moon at that time, you would see the Earth almost entirely lit (almost full). So seeing the dark side of the Moon slightly lit, we actually see Earth's light.

Other phenomena that can be observed in the sky, and you need to be aware of, those tempted by this hobby, are comets, eclipses of the Sun or Moon, or you can have fun with the camera on the stars. More in the next article.

Reasons to like astronomy. Pert two.
Reasons to like astronomy. Pert three.
Reasons to like astronomy. Pert four.


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