The cooler temperatures over the weekend brought clear skies that make sky viewing a little easier. With the onset of Christmas Eve during the first week of the new year, the Moon will pass each of the five visible planets.
As the sky darkens all day, an old, waxing crescent moon roughly two fingers wide on your outstretched arm will be separated from the first two planets from the sun. With only about 2% of the moon’s face illuminated, it will be hard to see. The bright object to the right is Venus, above very young Mercury, currently 50% illuminated.
By Christmas Eve, the moon will move between Venus and Saturn and will be next to the ringed planet on Monday night. The round continues on Tuesday evening as the 25% lit Moon splits the gap between Saturn and Jupiter. By Wednesday night, the moon, now 35% illuminated, is only a few degrees to Jupiter’s left.
A new study shows weather changes like the season on Jupiter
Scientists recently completed decades of studying the clouds that make up the colorful bands and persistent storms that make up Jupiter’s Great Eye. We’ve known since the Pioneer missions in the 1970s that the color of the bands in Jupiter’s troposphere reveal temperatures. The white bands are cooler, and the reddish to brown bands indicate warmer temperatures. Decades of data from those missions combined with ground-based observations have yielded some surprising results.
said Glenn Orton, senior medical research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and lead author of the study.
Planetary weather researchers plan to use the data to make more long-term predictions of weather on Jupiter, which can help inform climate change research here on Earth.
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