Tonight – January 31, 2017 – look in a general westward direction after sunset to enjoy a close-knit couple, the moon and Venus. A fainter object, Mars, is also nearby so that these three objects, all neighbors to Earth in orbit around our sun, make a triangle on the sky’s dome. The moon and Venus will pop out into your evening twilight almost immediately after sundown. That’s because they rank as the second-brightest and third-brightest heavenly bodies, respectively, after the sun. As dusk turns into darkness, watch for the planet Mars to appear on the sky’s dome, near the waxing crescent moon and dazzling Venus.
Or, if you have binoculars, try spotting Mars near the moon and Venus before nightfall. Venus shines some 185 times more brilliantly than Mars does at present, explaining why Venus comes out first thing at dusk whereas Mars must wait until dark to make its presence known.
Could you imagine what a disaster it would be if the 140,000 packets of seeds in the ICARDA seed bank, some dating back an incredible 10,000 years, were destroyed in Aleppo’s carnage? Thankfully, a team of scientists moved rapidly to get the priceless seeds out of the country before they ended up in the rubble.
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