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Last updateSun, 30 Aug 2015 2pm

Astronomy

29 Jul 2016
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August 2016 has a rare gift for skywatchers: For most of the month, all five naked-eye planets can be seen during evening twilight, and they participate in beautiful pairings and groupings! From a site with an unobstructed view of the western horizon, begin within a half-hour after sunset to catch Venus before it sinks too low. Use our evening twilight chart link to guide you. Venus, at magnitude -3.8, is visible with the unaided eye, even low in bright twilight, if you know where to look. (It will get higher in coming months, setting in a dark sky starting in October.) Jupiter, next in brightness at magnitude -1.7, is easy to find not long after you spot Venus. For most of August, Jupiter appears to the upper left of Venus, getting one degree closer each day until their spectacular close pairing on Saturday, Aug. 27. Thereafter, Jupiter will appear to…
01 Jul 2016
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All three bright outer planets remain prominent in the evening sky this July. At dusk, find bright Jupiter in the west-southwest to west, apricot-colored Mars in the southern sky, and Saturn not far to the left of Mars. Venus passed behind the sun in early June, but by mid-July, it emerges into our early evening sky very low in the west-northwest bright twilight glow, 20 minutes after sunset. Look from a place with a view unobstructed by mountains, and use binoculars to help you spot Venus in bright twilight in its first weeks. Binoculars will reveal Mercury near Venus from mid-July until late August. That’ll bring the total to all five bright planets visible simultaneously! Attend a star party hosted by one of the local astronomy clubs for telescopic views of Jupiter’s cloud belts and four largest moons; Saturn’s spectacular rings and largest moon Titan; the south polar cap and…
31 May 2016
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Now that the Earth has overtaken all the bright outer planets (with the final one being Saturn, reaching opposition on June 2), we can conveniently follow them at dusk for several months: Jupiter until start of September, Saturn until Thanksgiving, and Mars until end of May 2017. Venus passes behind the sun on June 6, and by middle of July will emerge into our early evening sky very low in the bright west-northwest twilight glow shortly after sunset. Binoculars will help you spot Venus very low in twilight in its first weeks, and can reveal Mercury nearby from mid-July until late August. That’ll bring the total to all five bright planets visible simultaneously! Our chart depicting the sky at evening mid-twilight follows positions of naked-eye planets and stars of first magnitude or brighter in the sky when the sun is 9 degrees below the horizon, roughly 45 minutes hour after…

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