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Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

Astronomy

30 Apr 2020
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May features the departure of Venus from the western evening sky just days after its close pairing with Mercury. In the southern predawn sky, Jupiter and Saturn remain in “quasi-conjunction,” within 5 degrees all month, while brightening Mars widens its distance to the lower left of our solar system’s giant planets. Every spring, in nightly outings during the first hour after sunset, you can enjoy following the seasonal departure of bright stars into the western twilight glow. In order of date, they are Rigel, Aldebaran, the Dog Star Sirius and Betelgeuse, as well as—before the end of May this year—Venus. A close conjunction of departing Venus with emerging Mercury will take place on May 21. By the start of June, of winter’s luminaries, only the spring arch of four bright stars remains: from left to right, Procyon, the “Twins” Pollux and Castor, and Capella. Using a telescope or binoculars held…
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…