Adrian Dening's Stars Over Somerset

    Monday 19th to Sunday 25th February 2024

    How about a bit of observing during daylight hours? Around 4pm on Monday 19th, a 79%-lit Waxing Gibbous Moon will be located towards the east and it should be visible even though the Sun will have not yet set below the horizon.

    Just before 4pm that day is the optimum time to spot the Clair-Obscur visual effect known as the "Jewelled Handle" on the Moon's surface. I have provided an image below to help locate it.

    In the art world, the technique known as "Chiaroscuro" refers to the use of strong contrasts between light and dark and the technique is often associated with the Renaissance Period, being employed by artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt.

    In the astronomy world, the French translation of "Clair-Obscur" refers to extreme contrasts on the lunar surface where sunlight falling on the landscape produces obvious shapes at certain times of the month, when the Moon is in a particular phase and light from the Sun is hitting it at a specific angle.

    Sticking with the daylight theme, if you look towards the south east around 7am on Thursday 22nd, it should be possible to observe a magnitude -3.8 planet Venus just above the horizon. At the same time, a magnitude +1.3 Mars will be just below and to the right of it. This will be quite a challenge, but please don't be tempted to use a telescope or binoculars though, as the Sun will be in the process of rising beside them!
    Screenshots courtesy of Stellarium
    Copyright Adrian Dening and Radio Ninesprings 2024

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