Hello! I’m Karl Hricko for United Astronomy Clubs of NJ, bringing you the; February Astronomy Update for the WNTI listening area. Strangely enough, there is a connection between astronomy and Valentines Day. It involves the Chinese story of Zhi Nu, the 7th princess of the queen mother of the western heavens, and a cowherd by the name of Niu Lang. Zhi Nu was a beautiful weaver maiden who fell in love with Niu Lang. After a secret marriage, the princess was no longer able to dedicate her time to weaving the clouds and the rainbows in the sky.
Because of this, the Queen mother separated them by placing the princess in the sky as the star Vega. She then placed Niu Lang into the heavens as the star Altair, with the river of the Milky Way between them. The only time they could meet was on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month. On the eve of that day, the magpies formed a bridge to help them cross the Silver River or Milky Way. This date of July 7th is celebrated by the Chinese as a day for lovers. It is known as the Double Sevens.
During this month of the Valentine, at dusk we can see Mercury above the horizon, in the west-southwest. It then switches to a morning position at the end of the month. Also at dusk, brilliant Jupiter shines high in the sky in Gemini. In the morning hours, facing southwest, orange looking Mars is seen in Virgo. Looking southeast at this time, the light of Venus overwhelms the sky in Sagittarius. Golden Saturn rises around midnight in Libra.
So on this month when romance is celebrated, when you look to the sky, include the visible planets with or without the light of the silvery moon.
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