This is the Dudley Observatory Skywatch Line for Wednesday, November 27th, and Thursday, November 28th, written by Louis Suarato.
The 2% illuminated, waxing crescent Moon sets at 5:35 p.m., Wednesday. Look to the Moon’s upper left for Venus and Jupiter separated by 4 degrees. Venus will be the brighter of the two planets. Higher, and further south, shines Saturn in the constellation Sagittarius. Thanksgiving provides a photo opportunity of a fine conjunction of the Moon in proximity of the two planets, when the crescent Moon will be 2 degrees above Venus. The 6% illuminated, waxing crescent Moon will set at 6:24 p.m., Thursday. Thursday, Venus will reach aphelion, its furthest distance from the Sun during its annual orbit. At aphelion, Venus will be 67.67 miles from the Sun. Venus is currently 133.856 million miles from Earth. According to NASA, Venus is 162 million miles from Earth at its furthest when both planets are on opposite sides of the Sun. The pre-dawn sky rounds out the easily visible planets by providing views of Mars and Mercury. Look above east-southeastern horizon after 5:30 a.m. for the two planets. Mars will be the higher, and dimmer of the two. On November 28, 1964, Mariner 4 was launched from Cape Kennedy, Florida. On July 14, 1965, Mariner 4 made its Mars fly-by, and became the first satellite to transmit a close-up photograph of Mars. Flying as close as 6,118 miles, Mariner 4 revealed Mars to have a cratered, rust-colored surface. The star above Mars is Spica, Virgo’s brightest. Mercury rises at 5:15 a.m. in Libra.
Thanksgiving also gives us a bright, 1st magnitude International Space Station pass over our region. Beginning at 5:02 p.m., look over the western horizon for the ISS to emerge from the fading glow of sunset. The conjunction of the Moon, Venus and Jupiter will be to the south of the rising ISS. The Space Station will then head northwest toward the constellation Hercules. After the ISS passes under Hercules, it will head toward Ursa Minor. The ISS will then pass under the Little Dipper and onto the northeast horizon, passing Capella in the constellation Auriga on the way. You may be able to capture the rising ISS and the conjunction in the same field of view with a wide-angle lens.