A good reason to wake up at dawn

July 4, 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.

The video will load shortly
A new ScienceCast video previews the July 2012 sunrise sky show.

Explore further: Planets align in the morning sky (w/ video)

Related Stories

Recommended for you

First ultra-compact dwarf galaxy in the group NGC 5044 found

February 27, 2017

(Phys.org)—A team of astronomers led by Favio Faifer of the National University of La Plata, Argentina, has discovered the first ultra-compact dwarf (UCD) galaxy in an X-ray bright galaxy group designated NGC 5044. The ...

Hubble cooperates on galaxy cluster and cosmic background

February 27, 2017

The events surrounding the Big Bang were so cataclysmic that they left an indelible imprint on the fabric of the cosmos. We can detect these scars today by observing the oldest light in the universe. As it was created nearly ...

Constraining the chemistry of carbon-chain molecules in space

February 27, 2017

The interstellar medium of the Milky Way contains 5-10% of the total mass of the galaxy (excluding its dark matter) and consists primarily of hydrogen gas. There are small but important contributions from other gases as well, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.