Last Thursday was the closest conjunction between Venus and Jupiter in 24 years, so this week’s “101 things” are all about astronomy and the wonders of the night sky.
Now people have been looking up to the heavens for millenia to answer life’s biggest question – if I show her Cassiopeia, will she show me her boobs? And as humanity’s continued existence undoubtedly proves, the ladies love a man that knows how to read the stars. But before I give you all the cheat-sheet on impressing women with your astronomy knowledge, we need to start with the basics…
49 – See both solar and lunar eclipses
An eclipse always sparks off a resurgence of public interest in astronomy, yet a lot people don’t really understand what’s going on. And frankly unless you’re willing to sit down with me, a basketball, a tennis ball and a flash light, and you’re going to put out; I really can’t be bothered explaining it here. Read the wikipedia article. What I can tell you is while most people have probably seen a lunar eclipse, you have to be pretty lucky to see a solar eclipse while you’re flying over Antarctica. My folks bought me a ticket on the flight over Antarctica to see the November 23rd solar eclipse in 2003. And while having some guy leaning over me for over 20 hours to stare out the window, with a beer gut bigger than I am, wasn’t pleasant it was still worth it.
More recently, I watched last year’s lunar eclipse on December 10th via the SLOOH Space Camera. So if it’s cloudy where you are – or even the middle of the day like this was – you don’t have to miss out on the astronomical goings-on. Highly recommended.
77 – Learn Astronomy and Read The Night Sky
Ladies, hold onto your panties. Gentlemen, pay attention to all the “fun facts” I throw in – repeating them will make it sound like you might know what you’re talking about (when you clearly don’t).
The first thing you need to do is establish where North, South, East and West are.
- If you’re in the Northern hemisphere: easy – just find the the “North Star”. The North star is also known as Polaris – Latin for “Pole Star”. It’s actually two stars, and together they are the brightest point in Ursa Minor (aka the “Little Dipper”)
- If you’re in the Southern hemisphere: find the Southern Cross (aka “Crux“). If there’s no bogans around with this tattooed on their back, use the picture below for an idea of what it looks like. Then draw a line along the length of the Crux, and another line that runs perpendicular to the two “Pointer stars”, and where they intersect is South… or just use the picture below.
If this proves too difficult, you can a) get a bloody compass, or b) simply plan to romantically watch the sun set with your lady friend, and take note that where the Sun sets is West – you can working out North, South and East from there. Shneeeeeaky… It also gives you a chance to point out that the first “star” after sunset is actually a planet – Venus. And Venus is named after the Greek Goddess of Loooooove.
Okay, we know where our four compass points are! Using East and West, follow the arc across the sky that the sun followed (or that the moon is following). This is the ecliptic path, and is also the path all the planets follow. Venus is going to disappear below the horizon within a few hour after sunset, but Mars, Saturn and Jupiter are usually pretty easy to spot – they’ll be bright stars on or near the ecliptic line. And as I mentioned at the start, Venus and Jupiter are within two finger widths of each other at the moment. They won’t all be visible all the time, but if there’s a bright star along the ecliptic it’s probably one of the three. You can even usually guess the planet too – Mars is red, Saturn is a brilliant yellow/white, and Jupiter is larger and it’s colour somewhere in between Mars and Saturn.
Now if you’re not getting laid at this point, I doubt any amount of amateur astronomy is going to cut it. You’re only saving grace now is to a) try and learn the constellations, or b) break out your smart phone and boot up Google Skymap. Try and avoid being one of those douchebags who says “I’ll just use my phone” to every one of life’s problems when you do though. But pointing your phone to the sky with Skymap will show you everything – planets, constellations, meteor showers, comets, satellites, everything. It’s also a great bullshit tester for others trying to get in on your astronomy-based heart-throb act.
Just make sure you turn the night vision mode ON – what’s the point of looking at the stars through your phone if you can’t see the actual stars when you look away from the screen?
And who knows – you may develop a genuine interest in astronomy out of it! Don’t expect to continue getting laid if you do though, unless of course you appear on national television in a possum suit…