Friday, May 31, 2013

Planet trio pictures

I hope you all are still enjoying the planet show. It has been hazy the past few nights, but it looks like tonight will be clear skies again. The planets are no longer as close to each other as the beginning of the week. Mercury and Jupiter are both pulling away from Venus. We can probably only spot Jupiter for one or teo more nights until it disappears into the glow of the sun.

The view tonight should be like this illustration (made with Stellarium)

There are lots of pictures out there of the trio in conjunction. Here is a great animated shot from Mitzpe Ramon by Ira

Inline image 3

And from Gadi in Tel Aviv:

Inline image 4

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Friday, May 24, 2013

3 Planet Dance

Three bright planets continue their dance on the western horizon just after sunset. Follow the show till the end of the month, as Jupiter dives down to meet the Sun and is replaced in our evening sky by even brighter Venus. Venus will then continue to shine as a beacon in the west for the next 11 months.

Venus, Jupiter, and Mercury on May 26, 2013Click the image to watch an animation of the planets and stars from May 20th to June 20th.

On  Sunday, the 3 planets will appear  closest  together make a beautifully tight triangle as shown below.

3-planet dance on May 26, 2013

For more on this conjunction with day to day details see Sky & Telescope

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Venus is back!

Hi All,
Another beautiful  day with blue skies. That means that right after sunset you will be able to greet  returning Venus.

Venus hasn't been seen in our night sky since last June when she disappeared passing in front of the sun to visit the dawn sky. She is now back in the evening after peeking out from behind the sun as her orbit swings back to our direction.

Venus now appears far enough away from the sun to be easily visible as soon as it gets dark, already outshining Jupiter to its upper left

So, be sure to run outside around 8pm to see Jupiter and Venus lined up together with Mercury. You will need a clear view low to the west. Venus will be about 1 fist (5 degrees) above the horizon, and the other 2 planets on either side as shown above.

Mercury will be more of a challenge to see as it is only magnitude -1 (compared with 3.3 for Venus) but eagle eye hunters should spot it in our clear israeli skies. I got a call last night from  Andy Schwartz, who spotted the trio as he was  walking down the street. If your eye's aren't as good as Andy's you cheat and use binoculars (like I did).

Be sure to look for the trio for the coming night as they will dramatically change position till only Venus is left visible by the beginning of next month.

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Friday, May 10, 2013

See the New Moon and New Venus Saturday night

The new moon of Sivan will be visible on Sat night.
It should be easy to spot by 7:45 pm low in a little to the north of west.

Venus is also coming back into view in the evening, after spending nearly a year in the morning sky. It will be harder to catch than the moon, as it will be lower and closer to the glow of the sun. If you have binoculars, you will increase your chance of bagging this planet. But you will have to hurry before it sets by 8:10pm.

The sky will look like the illustration below, with the moon a little closer to Venus than shown. Jupiter, the Moon and Venus will make a nice straight line showing of the ecliptic of our solar system.

Crescent moon between Venus and Jupiter after sunset May 11
But fret not, if you miss Venus Saturday, it will be getting higher and brighter everyday. 
Of course one last difficulty will be the partly cloudy skies forecast for thew next few days. But you never know when a planet or moon may peek through.