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Last updateFri, 03 Apr 2020 5pm

Astronomy

01 Apr 2020
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In the western sky at dusk, Venus in April attains its greatest brilliance of this year. Before dawn, the three bright outer planets—Mars, Jupiter and Saturn—are visible in the southeast before dawn. In the evening: Going eastward against the background stars of Taurus at a decreasing pace, Venus loses altitude late in the month. This occurs as Venus comes around to the near side of its orbit, slowing its progress among the zodiac constellations to less than the sun’s rate of one degree per day. Venus attains peak brilliance in its crescent phase in late April. Winter’s bright stars have moved into the western sky, most of them poised to depart in May. These include Orion’s red supergiant star Betelgeuse, now recovering from its record fade of January and February. Regulus, heart of Leo, climbs high in the south, and golden Arcturus ascends in the east to east-northeast. To Arcturus’…
27 Feb 2020
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In the western sky after sunset, Venus in late March attains its highest position at dusk and its longest duration of visibility in a dark sky for 2020. All three bright outer planets—Mars, Jupiter and Saturn—cluster in the southeast before dawn. Don’t miss their rare, once-in-20-years compact gathering from March 18-31. In mid-March, Mercury reaches its highest position during a poor morning twilight appearance, very low in the east-southeast. Binoculars will help you find the innermost planet well to lower left of the outer-planet threesome. In the March evening sky, the huge Winter Hexagon of bright stars is in fine view, with Sirius, the brightest star, crossing through the south, and Capella, its second-brightest member, passing north of overhead. In clockwise order, locate Sirius, Procyon, Pollux-Castor, Capella, Aldebaran, Rigel and back to Sirius. Orion’s shoulder—red supergiant and future supernova Betelgeuse, inside the hexagon—is still uncharacteristically faint at this writing (matching…
30 Jan 2020
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In the western evening sky, Mercury reaches one of its highest positions at dusk for 2020. In the predawn darkness of Feb. 18, the moon covers and uncovers Mars. Meanwhile, all three bright outer planets—bright Jupiter, with Mars to its upper right, and Saturn to its lower left—are gradually coming together in the southeast before dawn, until their rare, once-in-20-years compact gathering in late March! You won’t fail to notice brilliant Venus well up in the west-southwest to west at dusk. Mercury makes an appearance to its lower right. Mercury shines at magnitude -1 on Feb. 1, fading to magnitude 0 on Feb. 13, and magnitude +1 by Feb. 17; it then dims rapidly and drops into bright twilight within a few days. Mercury lingers 24 degrees from Venus Feb. 4-11. The revolution of the planets around the sun is counterclockwise, as viewed from above the northern side of the…

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