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Thursday, July 31, 2008


The Dance of the Planets.

Western horizon as seen at 6:30 pm from Adelaide on Sunday 3 August. (click to enlarge, similar views seen elsewhere in the southern hemisphere)

If you go watch the western horizon during twilight for the next week, you will see some amazing things. Starting on Saturday August 2, the Crescent Moon, Venus, Regulus, Saturn and Mars form a terrific line-up. You will need a flat, unobstructed horizon to see this, as the Moon and Venus will be just under a hand-span and a half above the western horizon half an hour after local sunset (start looking around this time).

Then on August 3 the Moon is near Saturn (see image above), and on August 4th the Moon is near Mars. During this time Venus draw close to Regulus, and on August 5-6 Venus and Regulus are close. Mercury then joins the lineup, and by August 10 Mercury and Regulus are close. At this time you can easily see all 5 classic planets that are visible to the unaided eye (Mercury, Venus and Mars and Saturn in the West, Jupiter in the east).

While this can be difficult to see due to the narrow window of time between when the faint planets become visible and Venus sets, this will be well worth the effort.


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