Walking Through The Solar System

Sunday, December 31, 2017
Leader: Mike Smith
Hike: 7 miles, 30 ft (Easy)

Twelve of us walked through the solar system on a cold, foggy day, "visiting" all the planets. I can't honestly say I was in my best explanatory form. I knew where all the planets were in the sky, that none except Mercury was visible to the unaided eye even on a clear night or dawn. I simply was not able to explain why we see them where we do. Here's a better summary: Planets rise and set because of the Earth's rotation. Because they move (the word planet comes from Greek "wanderer") they change position in the sky at night, unlike the "fixed" stars. {The stars move, too, and very fast, but they are so far away that even in our lifetime, we can't appreciate any change in their position.) The inner planets are Mercury and Venus. Because they are between the Earth and Sun, we see them only when the Sun has just set or is about to rise, in the evening and morning sky. Venus is very bright; Mercury can be seen if one knows where to look. The outer planets are Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, and when we on Earth pass them, they are closest to us, brightest for that passage, and visible all night long. They rise at sunset. After passage, or opposition, they rise a little earlier each night, until finally they rise and set with the Sun, and are behind the Sun. We call that superior conjunction. The planets keep rising earlier and are visible in the morning sky until they finally rise when the Sun is setting. The inner planets never do that, because in order to rise at sunset, they have to be outside the Earth's orbit, or the Earth has to be between them and the Sun. That never happens. Anyway, it was a nice New Years' Eve day hike with a good group!!

Members: Smith, Mike, Lodeesen, David, Egri, Denise, Faumont, Serge, Greer, Joel, Cooney, Marguerite, Strutin, David, Adey, Steve, Northrop, Jim. Nonmembers: Coots, Kay, Eastwood, Rebecca, Sanders, Joe.

group gathers—photo by David Lodeesen
click here for more photos from this trip

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