|The Astronomical Society of Greenwich||
Bruce Museum, Museum
Greenwich, CT 06830 (203) 869-6786, Ext. 338
Astronomical Society of Greenwich info
2 - Moon in conjunction with Venus
5 - New moon causes a partial solar eclipse visible from Antarctica
6 - Moon in conjunction with Mercury
8 - Moon in conjunction with Mars
10 - Moon in conjunction with Jupiter
11 - Moon in conjunction with Saturn
12 - First quarter moon
13 - Moon in conjunction with Aldebaran
16 - Moon is at perigee (226,486 miles from Earth)
19 - Full moon - "Snow Moon"
26 - Last quarter moon
28 - Moon is at apogee (251,416 miles from Earth)
News of the Worlds
Groundhog Day (February 2) marks the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, meaning that we'll have six more weeks of winter whether Punxutawney Phil sees his shadow or not.
Mercury is an "evening star" once again, best viewed between the 9th and the 19th. Jupiter and Saturn continue high and bright though they are getting farther west. Mars still hovers in the evening twilight. (All three outer planets disappear behind the Sun in late April.)
As can be seen above, the Moon makes a tour of all four between the 6th and the 11th.
Uranus is in conjunction with the Sun on the 6th. It will join Neptune and Venus in the morning sky toward the end of March.
The Old Farmers' Almanac, 2000 edition, contains an entertaining article by Bob Berman (who also writes for Astronomy and Sky & Telescope) on the subject of the Millennium, pointing out that the current system has only been in general use for a thousand years or so. So, if the notion of the millennium makes you nervous, you can always use another system. (For instance, the Jewish calendar, which dates back to the Exodus, is in year 5761.) The article also describes several natural numbering systems such as the Saros Cycle of 54 years and one month, which is used to calculate the recurrence of lunar and solar eclipses.
A sidebar tells the story of the 5th-century Romanian monk, Dionysius Exiguus (which can be translated as Dennis the Short) to whom Pope John I gave the job of revising the old Roman calendar. Doing his research in Alexandria, Egypt, Dionysius calculated when the birth of Christ had occurred, calling his new system A.D. (Anno Domini, the year of our Lord). The system was further refined by the 8th-century English monk, Venerable Bede, who started the custom of counting backwards the years before Christ (B.C.). (Bede was the one who forgot to insert a Year Zero between 1 B.C. and 1 A.D., thus causing the confusion over when the Millenium really starts.) By the year 1000, the calendar had been adopted by most of Europe.