Friday, July 8, 2016

Who will be the first to spot Venus?
I have gotten used to sharing the evening sky with our 3 visible superior planets of Saturn, Jupiter and Mars. They are called "superior" not because they are smarter, but because they are farther from the Sun then we are.

However, the "inferior" planet Venus is about to make a comeback. After spending nearly a year in the morning sky, Venus just finished rounding the far side of the Sun and is coming back to our night sky.

Because of the season, the ecliptic now makes a shallow angle with the western horizon after sunset. This means that although venus will be getting farther from the Sun each night, it will not move much above the horizon, making viewing difficult. However, I have already heard of one report of someone in Israel finding Venus in binoculars.

Tonight Venus will set by 8:20 pm, only about 35 minutes after sunset. Each night venus will set a minute or 2 later. By the beginning of August Venus will still only be about 4 degrees above the horizon 1/2 hour after sunset. But bright enough for keen observers to spot.

See this great  animation  of Venus and all the the other visible planets dancing in the western sky over the next year. It is created by the Shadow and Substance guy. Note that Venus and Jupiter will pass in a very close conjunction on Aug 28th. Stay tuned for more on that later.

So keep looking up, and let me and the list know if you are able to spot Venus!


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