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June 22, 2015

Jupiter, Venus, and the Moon

Photo Credit Earth Sky
Last Friday night while at Friday Night Flix, a local free movie in the park event, we noticed Jupiter and Venus near the crescent moon in the western sky.

I knew they were planets, my son (who is 14 today, Happy Birthday) knew they were planets. We knew they were Venus and Jupiter but we were in disagreement over which was which.  My daughter and husband, who was with us, didn't know which was which either so we settled it by me grabbing my phone!

I found this cool app Star Tracker for the phone.  You point your phone at whatever you are looking at in the sky, as if you are going to take it's picture, and the app will tell you what you are looking at.  I loaded the app, open the app, pointed it at the Moon, Venus, and Jupiter and it revealed that my son was right and I was wrong!  I had my planets mixed up. Once we settled which was which I let my son and daughter play with the app. They had fun pointing it at everything.  Even at 14 and 13 little things like that still amuse them, at times.

Superstar, my son, noted the sun according to the app, was below the moon. The sun had gone down for the night and the app even when you point the phone low enough will show you what's below the horizon. This discovery of course made him question: If the sun and moon are both in the west why are we only seeing a crescent moon?

By this time we were in our car driving home, from our event, I was driving and trying to explain, but my words were making it more confusing for the kids. So my husband took out his phone googled it and found an answer. What he found was basically saying what I was trying to say but clearly in a less confusing way. Sometimes I fumble around for the right words or examples.  Who knew a family outing to watch Jurassic Park would turn into an astronomy lesson?


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