Waxing Gibbous Moon
Great fun has been had over the past weeks in anticipation of the once in several lifetimes visual event that has been called the Jupiter/Saturn Conjunction. That's a misnomer, but really, what else are you going to call it without using more words? I prefer the Jupiter/Saturn Alignment, but maybe I am being picky.
What bugs me more, though, is calling it the "Christmas Star" and the "Star of Bethlehem." Planets aren't stars. But all the North Pole/Santy Claus romance and possible religious brainwashing aside, at least the U.S. government hasn't figured out a way to make it into an occasion for flag waving like an NFL game, so I suppose I should be grateful. The fact of the matter is that there is only one star in this solar system and it has nothing to do with Santa, Jesus, or the Dallas Cowboys.
The alignment of these planets from our point of view on Earth that is the cause of all the hubbub and the extra brightness in the sky is still the result of our star, the biggo-baddo Sun. Jupiter and Saturn would not shine on their own were it not for the Sun. We think. It is not a testable hypothesis! Ha!
Anyway, one of my neighbors (Kurt Kurasaki) is a Berkeley-educated computer wizard and amateur astronomer with a telescope so complicated that it too went to Berkeley for nigh on a decade. I saw a picture of it yesterday and I immediately got a headache. You can't just hook it up to a tripod and check out the sky. You have to program it with a laptop, wheel it out of the house on a gurney, and ceremoniously synchronize its whirring, clicking gizmos with a tracking station in Greenwich, England. You lost me at laptop.
Kurt knows how to strap a DSLR camera to this bad boy and take photos of stuff. He sent me this one last night, the goldurn showoff.