Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Great time to see planetary alignment

Venus is back. Mercury is up. Jupiter is at apposition. The Moon is full.

If you go out right now (or tomorrow at the same time) you can see Venus low in the west above where the Sun set abut half an hour ago. You can't miss bright Venus, which is often confused for a passing airplane. About 1 finger below, at the 7 O'clock position is much fainter Mercury, now at about its peak height for this appearance. Now, turn around and you'll see big Jupiter rising in the aast, nearly as bright as Venus, although it is about 5 times as far away. Right beside the king of planets you'll find the full Moon. (Tomorrow the moon will be lower, just rising at this hour.).

Now imagine what all this looks like from out in space. We have the Earth in the middle with Venus, Mercury and the Sun to one side, and the Moon and Jupiter on the other. All one one line as seen from above. A picture perfect alignment.

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