Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Look East Before Sunrise To See A Planet Party

If you're awake about a half-hour before sunrise (which is just a few minutes after 6AM this week), look east toward the dawn and you'll notice a cluster of bright lights just above the horizon (in green) like this:

(Image from Planets 3.0 by Dana Peters http://qcontinuum.org/planets )

That cluster of bright lights is composed of the following planets: Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter less than 10o apart from each other in the sky (from our perspective here on Earth). The planets appear so close together that you could cover them all with your outstretched hand! Dr. Tony Phillips of NASA says, "The best morning is May 11th, when Venus and Jupiter converge to form a tight pair only 1/2o apart. (Now you can hide them using no more than one finger.) Venus and Jupiter are so bright you might think you've witnessed a double supernova beaming through the morning twilight. But, no, it's just the two brightest planets in our own solar system."

If you miss Wednesday morning's show, don't worry, this planet convergence continues through the end of May. For more information on what these planets will be up to in our sky this month, click here.

Watch this NASA video explaining the Planet Party this month:

You can check the exact sunrise time for your location by clicking here.
--Blog by Meteorologist Carrie Rose

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