Thursday, May 16, 2013

Look to the West!

One of the big sky shows of 2013 is about to start - the triple planetary conjunction of Jupiter, Venus and Mercury will be reaching its peak near the end of this month.  But already Venus is rising up out of the twilight as it rounds its orbit behind the sun.  Rising steadily as Jupiter sinks slowly behind the sun, fast-moving Mercury will pop out of the twilight also, drawing even with Venus a week from tonight on the 23rd.  For a couple days afterwards, all three planets will be visible in the same wide-angle binocular field of view and easily visible to the naked eye!  Rarely is a triple alignment visible, and rarely also so conveniently right after sunset (look about 30-40 minutes after sunset, with a clear western horizon).  Shown at left is tonight's view showing Jupiter still pretty high, and Venus still low, just over the roof line below.   For more information, check out the NASA page about the alignment.  And keep looking westwards after sunset the next couple weeks!

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