Thanksgiving Stargazing Menu: Mercury Aligns With Saturn, and More

Wednesday, 22 November 2017 - 10:24AM
Space
Wednesday, 22 November 2017 - 10:24AM
Thanksgiving Stargazing Menu: Mercury Aligns With Saturn, and More
Image credit: YouTube
Thanksgiving is upon us again, but 2017's menu is special: Mercury will align with Saturn to make this year and an unforgettable feast for stargazers. 

This year, if you're close with your family and you'd like the chance to bond over a non-traditional Thanksgiving activity, you may want to take your loved ones outside to show them the wonders of the universe, as you spend a little while stargazing, and spotting planets in the evening sky immediately after you've finished eating.

Or, alternatively, if the idea of spending an entire long weekend with your family is far more than you can bear, you might want to have the excuse to head outside by yourself for a little peace and quiet. Your Thanksgiving with the in-laws might feel like it'll never end, but when viewed on a more cosmic scale, the holiday is merely a blip of time that'll pass soon enough.

For whatever reason you may want to take some time to look out at the stars, there'll be plenty to see. Thanksgiving night is the perfect opportunity to get a look at several planets in our solar system, as well as a chance to gaze in wonder at our own home world's largest satellite, the moon.

Here's some of the highlights of Thanksgiving stargazing.

Find yourself a nice, dark spot of land, and cast your eyes to the southwest at around forty-five minutes past sundown. If you time things right, this should coincide nicely with the end of your Thanksgiving meal, so it's a nice way to get out of helping with the dishes.




Just above the horizon should be Mercury, the closest planet to the sun. It's yellowish in color, should be brighter than most of the other lights in the sky, and won't be twinkling like the other lights.

If you're having trouble telling which star is Mercury, take a look for another bright star that should be right above it. Thanksgiving night will see Saturn align with Mercury, providing two planets for the price of one. Saturn is much larger than Mercury, but it also further from the Sun, so it should be paler in color, as it radiates its own light as well as reflecting our star. As with Mercury, it should be noticeably brighter than anything else in the night's sky, with one exception.

The biggest light on display is one that we're all very familiar with—the moon, which will rise at around dusk, and should also appear to the southwest, alongside Mercury and Saturn. These three sights will all be relatively close to each other, meaning that as long as you've got a good seat, you can watch them for hours without having to keep looking around the sky—just be sure to find a way to keep warm while gazing up at the sky.

While these sights are guaranteed, it's also worth keeping watch for shooting stars that may dot the sky periodically. The Earth has recently been experiencing some particularly bright meteor visits, with huge lights illuminating the skies around the world. It's entirely possible that, if you're very lucky, you might just get to see something in the sky that nobody saw coming.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time for families to get together and create lasting memories. There are far worse ways to do it than getting together for some stargazing, and besides, depending on how much turkey you've consumed, you might need to walk it off with a brisk trip up a nearby hill to see the stars.
Science
Astronomy
Space
Thanksgiving Stargazing Menu: Mercury Aligns With Saturn, and More
No