Jake Turcotte

Jupiter's leaving - but Venus and the moon will meet again soon!

Judging from your comments, last evening's (for those of us in the Eastern US) conjunction between the moon, Venus, and Jupiter, drew appreciative reviews from Minnesota to Uganda and points in between.

We here got the frown; folks in Asia got the smiley face. And viewers in Western Europe were treated to an occultation when the moon slid in front of Venus for a bit.

Tonight, the view was markedly different. During my pre-supper walk with pooch around 6 p.m., a thin layer of clouds obscured Jupiter and only grudgingly let light pass through from the moon and Venus -- all three now heading their separate ways.

But in a quick email exchange, Alan MacRobert, a senior editor at Sky and Telescope magazine up the road in Cambridge, Mass., mentioned to me that on New Year's Eve we can look forward to a conjunction of the moon and Venus.

If you're inclined to watch it, put a bid in for a pair of binoculars as a holiday gift, if you don't have a pair already. The moon-Venus conjunction will fall well within a binoculars' field of view, just as last night's cosmic liaison did. And they could keep you coming back for more.

Depending on how dark your local skies are, binoculars can introduce you to star clusters, the Andromeda Galaxy, and a host of other fascinating objects.

For more on binocular astronomy, try here or here. May your skies be dark, clear and your cocoa hot!

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