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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Astronomy

31 May 2018
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At dusk in June, two planets clearly outshine all the stars. Venus, at magnitude -4 in the west-northwest, sets about 2.5 hours after sunset. Jupiter, near magnitude -2.4 in the southeast to south at dusk, reaches its highest point in the south about three hours after sunset on June 1, moving to one hour after sunset at month’s end. Mercury passes superior conjunction on the far side of the sun on June 5. Near the perihelion of its orbit, it emerges very swiftly into the evening sky. Using binoculars, look very low in the west-northwest twilight glow, to the lower right of Venus, by 25 degrees on June 16; 20 degrees on June 25; and 17 degrees on June 30. Later in the evening, Saturn rises within two hours after sunset on June 1, moving to around sunset on June 24, three days before opposition. Mars rises within four hours…
01 May 2018
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Two planets far outshine all the stars this month. May through June, Venus, at magnitude -4 in the west-northwest at dusk, attains peak altitude of its current apparition and sets a maximum of 2.6 hours after sunset. Jupiter—magnitude -2.5, its brightest of the year—passes opposition to the sun and all-night visibility on May 8. Watch it climb from very low in the east-southeast at dusk on May 1 to 30 degrees up in the southeast by month’s end. Next in brilliance at dusk in May are blue-white Sirius (magnitude -1.4) until its departure in the west-southwest, and three zero-magnitude stars: golden-orange Arcturus, high in the east to east-southeast; blue-white Vega, rising into view in the northeast; and yellow Capella, sinking in northwest. In the morning: Jupiter, in the west-southwest at dawn, is easily the brightest morning “star” until it drops out late in the month. It sets 4-5 minutes earlier…
30 Mar 2018
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The two brightest “stars” in the April evenings are really planets. Venus continues to gain altitude in the west to west-northwest at dusk, as the time of its setting shifts from 1.6 hours after sunset on April 1, to 2.2 hours after on the 30th. Jupiter doesn’t appear on our evening mid-twilight chart until almost month’s end; it rises in east-southeast just more than three hours after sunset on the 1st, to just more than a half-hour after on the 30th. Next in brilliance at dusk are blue-white Sirius in the southwest; golden orange Arcturus climbing in the east-northeast to east; and yellow Capella, high in the northwest. In the morning, Jupiter, in the southwest at dawn, is easily the brightest morning “star.” Ranking next are Arcturus in west, and Vega passing just a few degrees north of overhead. Mars, just east of due south, is slightly fainter than these…