Monday, March 5, 2012

Seven Planets in One Night

Counting Earth, that is. The ongoing gathering of planets in the west and two rising in the east make it a great time to be a planetary observer. And the International Space Station joined the party to boot.

The streak is the ISS. Mercury is just above the tree, Venus and Jupiter are higher in the sky.

Mercury happens to be right next to Uranus. Had to wait a while for it to get dark and it was a tougher shot as the sky never really got totally dark, but I got Uranus as well.

Mars rises right after sunset. Saturn rises later in the evening. Here is a pic of Mars rising over the mountains.

Finally, to complete the night, you have to stay up until a little after 10pm local time when Saturn rises.

That really bright guy at the bottom left is a plane (you can see a short streak). Almost directly to the right of the plane is Saturn (the bright star to the upper right of Saturn is Spica). This is a wide field view so you can see Mars toward the top of the picture and notice how much higher it is now than several hours earlier when it barely cleared the mountain.

You can try this tomorrow night as well. Mercury and Uranus won't be quite as close together, but will still be in the same binocular field of view. Mercury reaches its greatest distance from the Sun tomorrow and will start getting lower in the sky each evening. So the sooner you can give this a try, the greater your odds of success.

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.


lizardmom said...

wow, very cool, so glad you're here to help us see stuff, we wouldn't know what it was otherwise.
love it!!!!

Sassa said...

Great Pictures! Thanks

Sassa said...

Great Pictures! Thanks

OrbsCorbs said...

Thank you, hale, for keeping an eye on the sky for us.

kkdither said...

What, no mention of the asteroid that is hurling its way close to earth?

p.s. nice pix, as usual. Too bad the ISS is not making any visible passes. It would be nice to step out to watch without shivering madly.

hale-bopp said...

Ah, that asteroid is only a 1 on the Torino scale and probably will be downgraded to a zero by the end of next year. Needs to get up a couple more notches before I would get concerned!