Skip to comments.SUNSET PLANETS [Mercury and much brighter Venus now visible in west just after sunset]
Posted on 03/31/2010 9:00:20 AM PDT by ETL
SUNSET PLANETS: The Solar System's innermost planets are about to put on a beautiful show. This week, Mercury is emerging from the glare of the sun and making a beeline for Venus. By week's end the two planets will be just 3o apart, a bright and eye-catching pair. Keep an eye on the sunset!
(Excerpt) Read more at spaceweather.com ...
Mars at this time, around sunset, is high in the sky, almost directly overhead from my New York City latitude. Of course its position in the sky depends on your own particular latitude. It appears as a fairly bright yellowish or orange 'star'. Saturn is currently rising around 6:20PM and should be high enough in the east-northeast sky by sunset to be seen from lots of locations. It is nowhere near as bright as Venus and can be easily taken for a star, except that it's light is more steady. It is basically alone in the east-northeast sky just after sunset at this time. The really bright orange star north of it is the red giant star Arcturus. -ETL
Thank you for posting this. Astronomy is great and I love to watch moon rises out my window from my Florida place. I have an Easterly view as good as at the ocean and can see right at 0 degrees elevation.
You’re welcome. Venus and Mercury tonight and in the week ahead will be fairly easy to see from many locations. Mars is easy also but it’s more difficult to describe its location. Same with Saturn rising in the east-northeast. Mars is currently brighter than Saturn and somewhat orange in color. Saturn appears more white if not slightly yellow.
Now that I think about it, Saturn may actually be closer to due east after sunset (as opposed to east-northeast). In any case, the only other bright object above the eastern horizon at that time is the bright orange star Arcturus a fair distance to the north of Saturn.
Thanks. That’s great. Has all 4 naked eye visible planets on it!
Where did you get that sky map from? A website or personal program?
http://www.skyandtelescope.com/ has that great interactive viewer that can go years into the future if you want.
http://www.skyandtelescope.com/ interactive viewer.
Looks like the Interactive Sky Chart from skyandtelescope.com.
Interested persons might like to download Cartes du Ciel. A wonderful free planetarium program. Drop me a note if you are interested.
I hope to get some photos or video of the encounter myself.
Thanks. I never knew that. I've been using the one heavens-above.com has. But S&T's is better I think. It even shows the perceived color of the planet. Notice that Mars and Mercury are somewhat orange in color. Mars is orange simply because it is 'rusty'. Its surface rock consists of iron-bearing basalt which has been oxidized by the thin Martian atmosphere. Mercury, however, appears orange or pink to us because it's always low on the horizon and we're looking through a thicker column of air as we look out more or less along the surface and out into space. The atmosphere reddens objects.
Yes, I would like the link. Thanks.
And good luck photographing the conjunction! Keep in mind, the pair will be even closer in a few days.
“By week’s end the two planets [Venus and Mercury] will be just 3 degrees apart, a bright and eye-catching pair.”
Here is a direct link to the Sky and Telescope interactive sky map. However, you need to first register with the site in order to access it. There is no charge for registering.
Enjoy this view of the Moon and the Pleiades from the other day.
Yes, we saw it using binoculars. A beautiful sight! I’ll check out the video. Thanks.
At some point I need to learn how to embed video on FR.
But for something like this a snapshot works best, unless it’s a time lapse. Because in its orbit around the Earth, the Moon only moves about the width of its apparent diameter (1/2 degree) every 45 minutes or so to the east (in the opposite direction it moves along with the entire sky every day due to the rotation of the Earth [west to east]). Perhaps some movement vs the background stars can be detected in that 5 min YouTube you posted, but it probably wouldn’t be too easy to pick up. I could be wrong. I didn’t really look for orbital movement when I watched it.
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Many many many, thanks for posting this!
I’ve taken a bit of an interest in night sky watching lately. This past weekend I went out and picked up a good binocular, that’s adequate for looking at the stars and other objects. It was clear out when I got home with them, so I gave it a try. I was totally blown away by how much the night sky seems to ‘come alive’ when looking at it with optics. Just looking at the Nebula in Orion is one of the more beautiful things I’ve ever seen! It was a little surprising when I thought about how I’d seen it my entire life, but never really knew how awesome it was, until getting a closer look.
I’m still trying to get a feel for what I’m looking at up there, and your post has the kind of information I’ve been looking for. Especially since I’m in VA, and you being in NY.
Thanks again! Please continue to post such threads whenever you get such information.
You’re welcome. Feel free to ask any questions you might have on the subject. If I can’t answer it, someone else probably can.
Exactly. That particular event was such that I ran out of sky before you could see movement (trees in the way).
There was a Pleiades/Moon event several years ago that I recorded (I’d have to dig up the video), that had several prominent occultations in it. I managed to get some close up of at least one star’s disappearance before the trees got in the way.
I thought it was in my youtube also, but, it is not. I’ll dig it up and upload it as I can.
The view of Venus and Mercury together was awesome this evening! Thanks for the heads up!
Using the astronomy software that was linked to in this thread, I was also able to see Mars and Saturn(I’m pretty sure) very well using my binoculars.
I can’t believe I hadn’t discovered this little hobby sooner, because it’s a lot of fun. I wish I would have had the optics when those comets were around back during the mid-90s. Every clear night is a big event! I might have to break down and find me a good telescope. I’d love to get a closer look at that Nebula within the Orion constellation.
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