What’s more romantic than an evening stroll under the stars, and what’s more impressive than being able to identify all the little dots?
Well, although the whole Universe might just be a hologram, it’s a darn pretty one.
We’ve been on EarthSky and can bring you some useful information if you want to impress someone with your knowledge of the galaxy,
December with its long nights is an ideal time to get to know your constellations. You never know when you might be hitch-hiking across the galaxy at the rate that technology is progressing, but you’ll also be worshiped for your coolness with this kind of familiarity with the solar system.
You can basically see all the planets. EarthSky reports, “Venus pops out at dusk. Jupiter rises at early evening, and Mars comes up after midnight. Saturn before dawn.”
VENUS, the evening star – Visible at dusk and nightfall throughout the month, it’s brightest now in December, and you might be able to see that it looks like a crescent, kind of like the banana shaped moon. That’s because it’s between the Earth and the Sun, so it’s not reflecting all the Sun’s light. It’s nice and bright and low in the SouthWest night sky. But catch it while you can, because come January, it’ll be in the morning sky.
JUPITER – Also visible before bed time, it rises in the east around twilight, about an hour before Venus hides away. From a good position, you’ll see Jupiter shining brightly from the opposite side of the sky to Venus; they’re the two brightest planets. A half decent telescope might get you a chance to peak at Jupiter’s four moons. It’s out there all night, so you might even manage to see it in the early morning as it’s visible until seven or eight in the morning. If you want to really impress your stroll partner, you’ll point out the two bright stars near Jupiter. They’re Castor and Pollux from the constellation Gemini
SATURN – You’ll find the ringed planet at mid-northern latitudes towards the end of the night. Saturn becomes visible about two hours before Dawn, and if you’ve got a decent app on your smartphone like Google’s Sky Map, you might be able to find this gold colored star in front of the constellation called Libra the Scales. The waning moon crescent of December 28 and 29 will point straight at it. If you’ve got a little telescope, you might even manage to make out it’s awesome rings.
MERCURY – This planet Is in the north, so those living in the northern hemisphere might catch a glimpse of the planet closest to our Sun in the evening sky.
MARS – Not the chocolate bar, but it’s an early riser; Mars will become visible just before the Sun. You’ll find it near the top of the sky at around 7am, but it’s not very bright, so you’ll have to look carefully.
Is it a Star or a Planet? There are billions of lights in the night time sky, so how are you meant to know what’s a star and what’s a planet. The answer is pretty simple, actually, Stars blink red and blue because of something called Doppler Shift, whereas planets are steady and white(ish). The Doppler Shift is caused by the same thing that makes sirens sound more high-pitched as an Ambulance approaches you and more low-pitched as they drive past (and racing cars too). In a nutshell, the waves of sound or light hit your ears or eyes closer together as the thing is speeding toward you, and then as the distance grows, the wave peaks get further apart.
Light and specifically colors are made by the wavelength, so blue light has a shorter wavelength than red light. As the star is spinning (which they all are), one side of it is turning towards you, and you see it as blue. The other side is spinning away from you, and you see red light, hence the blue-red flashing you see when you look at a star.
But who’s looking at the stars anyway on a romantic stroll?