More moon and morning planet alignments in store this weekend

Mercury, Venus, Saturn and Spica alignment Thursday morning Dec. 6 from East Dayton, Ohio. Details: 17mm lens at f/8, 6-second exposure at ISO 400. Credit: John Chumack

Couldn’t get to Egypt to see the planets hovering over the Pyramids of Giza at dawn earlier this week? Cloudy skies or a work schedule that wouldn’t allow a dawn sashay?

Good news. You still have plenty of time to see some great planetary lineups. Unlike eclipses and some meteor showers, planet pairings can linger for days. While Mercury, Venus and Saturn may not be equally spaced as they were on Dec. 3, they still form a delightful connect-the-dots alignment along with the star Spica an hour before sunrise. With a visitation by the thinning crescent moon beginning tomorrow, you have all the ingredients for a series of special events worth a smidge of sleep loss.

The moon, planets and Spica tomorrow morning Dec. 8, 2012 facing southeast about an hour before sunrise. For many locations that’s around 6:30-7 a.m. The five worlds will span some 45 degrees of sky. Views created with Stellarium

Tomorrow’s garland-like arrangement of planets, star and moon is arguably more striking than Monday’s highly publicized alignment of Saturn, Venus and Mercury. Look at how nicely these celestial orbs are strung out across the dawn sky. To see them all, make sure you’re somewhere with a wide open view to the south-southeast.

There’s something for everybody in the dawn sky now through early next week as the moon “visits” each planet in turn while slimming to a slender crescent.

Then on the 9th, the moon passes little more than a degree (two moon diameters) south of Virgo’s brightest star Spica (SPY-kuh). Saturn will be 4 degrees north of the moon the following morning, and on Dec. 11, a pleasing thin crescent glides just a degree and a half south of Venus.

Enjoy these sights while you can. I hear the end of the world’s coming on Dec. 21. We’ll look at why that’s not likely to happen in a blog I’m hoping to write tomorrow. If there is a tomorrow …

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About astrobob

My name is Bob King and I work at the Duluth News Tribune in Duluth, Minn. as a photographer and photo editor. I'm also an amateur astronomer and have been keen on the sky since age 11. My modest credentials include membership in the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) where I'm a regular contributor, International Meteorite Collectors Assn. and Arrowhead Astronomical Society. I also teach community education astronomy classes at our local planetarium.

32 thoughts on “More moon and morning planet alignments in store this weekend

  1. Well Bob I pity help you if your doing that blog tomorrow, you are going to be getting a lot of questions lol, just as well your a man with a lot of patience :-) .
    But jokes aside, it is a shame for people that is genuinely scared and a few people have taken their life over this, which all I can say to those people who put all this doomsday stuff out there, is shame on you.
    But as someone once said they are going to have pizza and watch the 2012 movie on the 22nd lol which that movie wasn’t even to be called that it was just to be another end of the world movie until someone told them that they just read about the Mayan’ s so they changed it into 2012, just to make more money, which a lot of people have done, but I for one don’t believe a word about it, its a load of baloney :-)

  2. I hope so too Bob it is a shame for some people who are genuinely afraid, and I’m sure folk will be glad to see the back of it all.

  3. Oh my bob…i for one am worried..as well as my 9 yr old daughter….so if u or lynn wanna send some facts or convo why I shouldnt be scared..im all ears

  4. Leslie, as you know Bob will make things a lot clearer tomorrow with his blog, and NASA have also done some great video’s about it too so you can check them out, also David Morrison ask an astrobiologist has a great page and has answered thousands of questions on the topic too, but Leslie this won’t happen try and not be scared just reassure your daughter the same as their is lots of stories the kids get told at school, it will just be another day, and you will be around to have a lovely Christmas with your daughter, trust me and one person I do trust is Bob he has helped me out a lot with unrelated questions, and is alway’s truthful, so I hope this helps.
    Lynn

  5. Thank you to both of you! I look forward to ur blog tomorrow bob!! And Lynn thank you. My daughters last day of school before break is dec 21st and im kind of scared to let her go. Im thinking of keeping her home. Im not sure whats going to happen or if people will be acting crqzy tha

  6. hi I was on my fb and someone posted a video about secchi and its headed towards earth or something like that….. have u heard of anything like this? and I look forward to ur blog I have 7 kids who are very worried about the 21rst as well maybe u can shed some light… thanks

    • Layla,
      Looks like it could possibly be a faint asteroid or maybe even an internal reflection. There’s no justification for the person saying it’s heading towards Earth. First, we don’t know whether it’s real or not. Second, if it is a small asteroid, we don’t know whether it’s in the foreground or background or the object’s true heading. It might appear like it’s aiming for Earth but actually be millions of miles to one side and in the background. You just can’t tell using your eyeball alone. Secchi pix typically do have asteroids in them just like pictures taken with telescopes here on Earth. Dozens of new asteroids are discovered every month just to give you a perspective.

  7. Hi Bob
    Thats my worse nightmare that layla wrote about as you know, I have never ever heard of secchi before and if i’ve looked at the right video which was made on the 5th December, is that the right video, well he says it’s called comet/ asteroid H12B , if it was real would it be posted on JPL website as someone was trying to work out how he can look it up properly, would we be able to look up JPL and see the proper information about it, and how can you be sure its not headed for us Bob, or do you know any way of findind out about this for real, hope you can help please I hate all this. Thanks.

    • Lynn,
      Asteroids are discovered constantly. If this were a new one and really approaching Earth, we would have heard about it. It could very easily be a familiar asteroid. Tons of these pass through the field of views of telescopes all the time. It might not even be real – just a reflection in the telescope optics.

  8. Thanks bob I just hate the web sometimes their is so many ppl out there trying to cause mass hysteria it just makes me worry….. with this whole Dec 21 stuff approaching so fast I have to admit I’m on the edge of my seat but again u have eased my mind so many times in the past… I just feel the whole myan thing can’t be right cause didn’t leap year start way after their time and wouldn’t that mean their calender ended months ago? Thanks for ur help bob I know it must be hard being the go to man all the time….

  9. Ok thanks Bob, and I presume their is no proper designation been given if it were real as I was just trying to work out how he’s gave it H12B as JPL don’t name them that way, would they post it on there, that’s what I was trying to find out or if you knew where you can keep updated about this possible ‘ asteroid’. Thanks Bob

    • Lynn,
      HI2B is a Secchi camera designation on the sun-watching STEREO-behind probe. Definitely not an asteroid name. Since we don’t know if it’s real, I can’t do any followup. If I hear otherwise, I’ll let you know.

  10. Sorry Bob it’s me again, that guy that posted the video has answered someone’s question and he said to look up c/2012 V4 on the JPL website which I did and it’s there, so it’s a comet, do you know anything about this, and this video this guy made on the 5th Dec is that the right one, I’m hoping so. THANKS again Bob

    • Hi Lynn,
      Yes, I saw a better version of the video and it sure looks like a comet with a very skinny tail. I can’t say whether it’s C/2012 V4 or not but I’m checking.

  11. Ok thanks Bob, hopefully you find out a bit more, please keep us updated if you here any more :-) Thanks Bob, what would we do without you :-)

  12. Thanks Bob, hopefully you will find something out soon, I will keep checking your blog to see if you have any updates as I’m such a worrier about these things, as this is real science not some Mayan prediction, but we will be ok with this, won’t we Bob?.
    I don’t know if you heard the news too about Giovanni from the remanzacco observatory, he passed away, such a shame.

    • It does appear to be C/2012 V4, the likely return of Comet Pons-Gambart. It’s presently over 143 million miles from the Earth (so it’s deep in the background) and moving farther from Earth each day.

  13. Thank you very much Bob at least that got sorted out in the end, do you think it will go into the sun then Bob? And what is Arienids, I have heard of the perseides etc but not them, and I forgot to ask is that comet not going to come near us then, we are perfectly safe as its moving farther away. Thanks again your a saint putting up with all my questions, but they are alway’s appreciated :-)

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