Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Planetary Brilliance!

Last night was a beautiful moonlit night with a clear sky, and the visible planets are at their best - in fact, March 2012 is going to be the best planet viewing month we've had for a long time - if you get a clear night.

In the early evening, about 8 p.m. last night, both Venus and Jupiter were shining brightly in the western sky. They'll be visible all month there, with a rare conjunction of these planets on Mar. 15th, when they are very close together (to our eyes). Until then Jupiter is the higher one of the two; after that Venus will be higher in the sky.

But that's not all. Mars rises in the east in early evening, and stays visible most of the night, nearly overhead by 11 p.m. It's as bright as any start in the eastern sky and has a bit of a reddish tinge. It's at the closest point of its orbit to earth, so it's particulary bright this month.

And later in the evening, sometime before 11 p.m., Saturn rises in the east. It's not as bright as the others, but clear to see if you watch for it.

If you want to read more, just google 'planets tonight' and read about it. But watch for a clear evening, and take advantage of the chance to see four planets in one night. If you're lucky you might even see a fifth, Mercury, just barely visible in the western sky 45 minutes after sunset, about where the sun sets, and below Venus and Jupiter - but it disappears quickly.

No comments:

Post a Comment