Monday, February 27, 2012

Weather Blog: See the Celestial Line Up Tonight

With clearing skies tonight, it will be a great opportunity to see 4 planets (and the moon) lined up across the sky. You will need an unobstructed view of the western sky to see Mercury, and of the eastern sky to see Mars. The two graphics I've included show the positions of the planets on March 1st, which will be very similar to tonight. Here's where to look: Start by looking east about 30-45 minutes after the sun sets tonight. Official sunset is at 6:01 PM, so try to shoot for around 6:45. Look toward the western horizon where the remaining glow of the sun lies, and you'll see Mercury, appearing as a faint star. Higher in the sky lies Venus, the most brilliant star-like object in the sky. Next in the line a little higher in the sky is Jupiter, with a very bright and more yellowish hue.
Well east of the moon and fairly low on the eastern horizon is Mars, with a very noticeable reddish orange color. The sky will get darker the later you go out and Mars will rise higher in the east, but Mercury will also be setting soon after the sun sets. It's for that reason, that you need to be out around 6:45 to see all of these objects together in the same sky. All of these planets are easily viewed by the unaided eye, and it will be well worth the effort to go out and see them. Happy viewing! -Zach

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