All five naked-eye planets visible now: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The sky on the morning of February 22, just before the Sun comes up. This is in Seoul, Korea, so in Europe and North America the Moon will be even closer to the three planets than this.

I was going to write a quick note here about Venus which is now at its highest point in the sky and will begin lowering once again pretty soon, but it seems it's not just Venus that one can see in the night/morning sky right now but all five naked-eye planets:

If you ever wanted to see a planet so bright it will take your breath away, this is your week and Venus is the planet. It hangs lantern-like, high in the west as darkness falls. It's so bright now that you should have little trouble finding it even before sunset in a clean, deep blue sky – which is also a good time to look at its dramatic crescent shape in a telescope.

As dusk starts to fade, this unrivaled heavenly lamp can scarcely be missed -- you won't need a map. Venus sets more than 3 hours after the sun.

The next planet to look for is Saturn. This week it comes up above the eastern horizon about 90 minutes after sunset, but by the time of its opposition to the sun on March 8 it will be visible all night from dusk to dawn. Two nights later, on March 10, Saturn will ride high above the full moon.
The other three planets visible are morning objects. Two of these are visible toward month's end but with some difficulty: Jupiter and Mercury.

Apparently morning of February 22 is going to be the best time, when Mercury, Jupiter and Mars are all next to the Moon. Actually I think I'll get a shot of that from Stellarium and make that the top image in this post.


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