Monday, June 20, 2005

Planetary Parade

We saw a really nice sunset from the plane as we were flying to Bonaire on Friday. When it got darker, we could see Venus too. Just before we landed, we noticed a star to the lower right of Venus and another to the upper left.

It turns out that the one to the lower right of Venus is Mercury and the one to the upper left of Venus is Saturn.

Right now, Saturn is about twice as far from Venus as Mercury is. That is going to change quickly and radically over the next few nights, so that by Friday, June 24, all three planets will be clumped together in a more or less horizontal arrangement.

On the 25th and 26th, all three planets will fit within a circle just two degrees across. They will also be in line with the Gemini twins, Castor and Pollux, which will be to the upper right of the planets.

You can be sure that we will be looking at the show every evening this week, and I'd recommend that you do too. You don't need any optical aid, and the planets are bright enough to be seen in urban skies. You just need to have a clear view of the western horizon.

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