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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2016 3:52 pm 
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Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2011 4:39 pm
Posts: 2071
Location: Gilford Park
Look up! 5 planets will align in the night sky next month ... next-month

"The best time to look is either side of the full Moon on 18 August as the light from the Moon washes out the fainter planets," Duffy says. "The most difficult planets to spot will be those fainter ones close to the horizon, so make sure to find somewhere dark with as clear a view as possible to the west where the Sun has set, meaning no low lying buildings or trees."

Interdum taurus est victor

Chris S.

PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2016 6:46 pm 
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Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2011 12:53 pm
Posts: 268
Location: Maple Shade, NJ
Another lame article by somebody who evidently has little or no practical experience observing the sky.

To start, the picture at the top of the page didn't make any sense -- it was bass ackwards for the evening sky in August. A quick scan of the text showed a reference to Australia, so maybe that explained it, but the constellations weren't "upside down" as they would be down under. Instead, it turns out that it's a morning view (before sunrise) that would correspond with our sky back in early February 2016.

In fact, the planets are currently in such a line, now that Venus and Mercury have emerged in the twilight after sunset. However, the post-sunset ecliptic isn't very steep this time of year, so Venus and Mercury are not gaining altitude in proportion to their solar elongations, and are still in a relatively bright sky, so they generally require optical aid (e.g., binoculars) to see. I have glimpsed Venus with unaided eyes a couple of times in the past week, but it's not yet the usual bright beacon we associate with Venus.

In the first half of August, before Mercury reaches Greatest Eastern Elongation on August 16 and forms a compact triangle with Jupiter and Venus at the Leo-Virgo border, Venus and Mercury may be more readily visible with unaided eyes. However, Mars and Saturn will be in Scorpius, more than 70 degrees east of the J-V-M triangle. Hardly the "glorious line" described in the article.

I had a nice view of the planetary line (with the addition of the moon) along the ecliptic earlier this month. Interestingly, I pointed it out on a couple of different occasions when passersby were asking what I was looking at (upon seeing me looking through my mounted 16x70 binoculars at Venus and/or Mercury). They were quite amazed when they were shown they could so easily see Jupiter, Mars and Saturn in the moderate twilight.

Now that Venus and Mercury are visible after sunset, you can see all seven (7) of the traditional planets -- not counting earth or Dwarf Planet (134340) Pluto -- in a single night. Neptune and Uranus are easy binocular objects now that they rise before midnight. In fact, the moon will occult Neptune just before midnight tonight (Friday/Saturday, July 22/23). However, it may require a telescope to spot relatively dim, magnitude 7.8 Neptune next to the 88% illuminated moon.

Joe Stieber

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