A good reason to wake up at dawn

Jul 04, 2012 by Dr. Tony Phillips
A Good Reason to Wake Up at Dawn
Earthshine is also known as "the Da Vinci Glow," after Leonardo Da Vinci who first explained the phenomenon.

Summer is a good time to relax, sleep late, enjoy a break from school or work. Waking before sunrise is just not done.

This summer is a little different. To find out why, set your alarm for dawn.

Every morning this July, the two brightest planets in the solar system will put on a show before . Look out any east-facing window to see Venus and , shining side by side, so close together you can hide them behind your outstretched palm. It's a great way to start the day.

On the 4th of July, Venus will be passing dead-center through the Hyades cluster, a loose grouping of stars 153 from .   Using binoculars, scan around the bright planet; you'll see dozens of stars scattered across the velvety-black sky. The temporary addition of Venus will make it seem that a supernova has gone off in the cluster.

Three mornings later, on July 7th, Venus and Jupiter line up with Aldebaran, the bright red eye of Taurus the Bull.  Aldebaran is a red giant star of first magnitude.  Together with Venus and Jupiter, it forms an almost perfect vertical line in the brightening sky.

The best, however, is yet to come.

On July 9th, Venus and Aldebaran converge to form an eye catching planet-star pair.  Scarcely more than a degree of arc will separate the two celestial bodies as Jupiter looks down from overhead. 

And then, on July 15th, a 12% crescent Moon joins the show, forming a bright celestial triangle with Venus and Jupiter.

The slender arms of the crescent cradle a ghostly image of the full Moon.  That's caused by Earthshine, sunlight reflected from our own planet onto the otherwise dark lunar landscape.

A crescent Moon with Earthshine is considered to be one of the prettiest sights in the heavens.  A crescent Moon with Earthshine plus Venus and Jupiter--that's worth waking up for even in the middle of summer vacation.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
A new ScienceCast video previews the July 2012 sunrise sky show.


Explore further: SpaceX launches supplies to space station

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Sun emits a mid-level solar flare

1 hour ago

The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 9:03 a.m. EDT on April 18, 2014, and NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful ...

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

3 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...

The importance of plumes

4 hours ago

The Hubble Space Telescope is famous for finding black holes. It can pick out thousands of galaxies in a patch of sky the size of a thumbprint. The most powerful space telescope ever built, the Hubble provided ...

Ceres and Vesta Converge in Virgo

7 hours ago

Don't let them pass you by. Right now and continuing through July, the biggest and brightest asteroids will be running on nearly parallel tracks in the constellation Virgo and so close together they'll easily ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...

Suddenly health insurance is not for sale

(HealthDay)— Darlene Tucker, an independent insurance broker in Scotts Hill, Tenn., says health insurers in her area aren't selling policies year-round anymore.