Get  the Lowdown on what's Down Low (Near the Horizon)
(Credit: Igor Zbitnoff)
of the Phoenix Astronomical Society

Here's what's happening all over when you look up at the night sky. The planets, this time Jupiter and Venus, pass each other on the imaginary line called the ecliptic. This close encounter anomaly is called a conjunction. Night Sky Network clubs across the nation are enthusiastic about telling and showing you about these events. Here are a few examples.

Aaron Clevenson of the North Houston Astronomy Club had this to say: " An email was sent to approximately 200 family and friends about the close encounter of Jupiter, Venus and the Moon. We described the details on why these events occur and phases of the Moon. It also went to the science coordinators at the local school district for broader distribution. The number of people this reaches is unknown but could have been in the thousands, including 30,000 students... It also involved a local observing session in my neighborhood."

Richard Smith of the Sidewalk Universe club in Nevada had this to say: "This was our first event at the fashion mall, out in front of the movie theater. It was a perfect spot to enjoy the Venus/Jupiter conjunction. Lots of visitors. Great interaction with the Night Sky Network Sun/Jupiter scale, and planet positioning poster. The mall security went through the complex on their bikes and Segways telling everyone about us."

Finally Skip Bird of the Westminster Astronomical Society, Inc. of Maryland chimed in: " Since we experienced 4 days of clouds this was the first time I got to show these kids the Jupiter-Venus conjunction. Because it wasn't quite dark enough when this class started I talked about mass, gravity and inertia. I used a contraption from one of my Phun with Physics classes to explain. Once it was dark we went outside and looked at Jupiter (and its moons), Venus with its phase, and our Moon. This of course attracted all the moms and dads who were going by."

Be amazed and thrilled about those bright objects in the night sky. Learn more about the dance of the planets from your local Night Sky Network amateur astronomy club here.