Interesting Skies - Day and Night
4 Jan 2003
SATURN AND THE CRAB NEBULA: The planet Saturn is gliding by the Crab Nebula in Taurus--a rare encounter that amateur astronomers can watch using backyard telescopes. Saturn is about 3800 times brighter the Crab, so the planet will probably overwhelm the wispy nebula on January 4th when the pair overlap. During the days that follow, however, the pair will separate and make a fine target for observing. Visit http://www.spaceweather.com for pictures and sky maps.
EARTH AT PERIHELION: Don't look, but today the Sun is a little bigger than usual. That's because Earth is "at perihelion"--our annual closest approach to the Sun. Because of Earth's slightly elliptical orbit, our planet and the Sun are 5 million km closer together in January than they are in July. Then why is it so cold outside (in the northern hemisphere)? Follow the links at http://www.spaceweather.com for the answer.