Physics Photo of the Week
Jupiter and Venus
and Venus are very close to each other in the sky this week.
Unfortunately, the power line cuts right across the center of the
photo, but time was of the essence, so I could not relocate to a better
These two planets are "playing tag" in the sky and will be visible for
several days in the low western sky soon after sunset. Notice the
sky is lighter nearer to the horizon - typical of the after
sunset. Watch Venus (currently closer to the horizon) become
higher in the coming days and soon will be higher in the sky than
Jupiter. Jupiter soon will be setting at sunset as it goes on the
opposite side of the sun.
This scene should become very interesting the next clear evening
beginning Sunday, Sept. 4 as the thin crescent moon joins the
scene. Look in the western sky at about 8:30 pm during the next
few evenings to watch these planets. I will be taking photos at
At right is a diagram of the positions of the planets,
the earth, and the sun with the arrows showing the direction of motion
around the sun. Because the earth orbits the sun faster than
Jupiter, the earth and Jupiter will soon be on opposite sides of the
sun making Jupiter out of sight for a couple of months.
A word about the weather. I made this photo Wednesday evening,
August 31, soon after Hurricane Katrina hit the southern US gulf coast
and after the remnants of the storm passed through central US.
Severe cyclones often leave the area with exceptionally clear
air. This passage of the storm provided the first clear air in
many weeks of a hazy summer. It's ironic that such a vicious
storm is "needed" to clear the air.
Finally, a word about Mars. Many people had seen chain-type
e-mails indicating that Mars would be closest to the earth in thousands
of years on Aug 27, 2005. That chain letter was erroneous.
Mars will not be at its closest to earth this year until sometime in
October. On Aug 27, 2003 (two years ago) Mars had its closest
approach in thousands of years. See the website:
Donald F. Collins
Physics Photo of the
published weekly during the academic year on Fridays by the Warren
Wilson College Physics
feature an interesting phenomena in
the world around us. Students, faculty, and others are invited to
submit digital (or film) photographs for publication and
explanation. Atmospheric phenomena are especially welcome.
Please send any photos to email@example.com.
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