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Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm

Astronomy

31 Aug 2016
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Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from west to west-southwest and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5 degrees north of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus, descending in the west, and blue-white Vega, passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb, completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in the south-southwest as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the southwest. The morning twilight sky is rich with stars as the Winter Hexagon, made up of stars from Orion, his Dogs, the Twins, the Charioteer with Mother Goat, and Taurus, the Bull.…
29 Jul 2016
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August 2016 has a rare gift for skywatchers: For most of the month, all five naked-eye planets can be seen during evening twilight, and they participate in beautiful pairings and groupings! From a site with an unobstructed view of the western horizon, begin within a half-hour after sunset to catch Venus before it sinks too low. Use our evening twilight chart link to guide you. Venus, at magnitude -3.8, is visible with the unaided eye, even low in bright twilight, if you know where to look. (It will get higher in coming months, setting in a dark sky starting in October.) Jupiter, next in brightness at magnitude -1.7, is easy to find not long after you spot Venus. For most of August, Jupiter appears to the upper left of Venus, getting one degree closer each day until their spectacular close pairing on Saturday, Aug. 27. Thereafter, Jupiter will appear to…
01 Jul 2016
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All three bright outer planets remain prominent in the evening sky this July. At dusk, find bright Jupiter in the west-southwest to west, apricot-colored Mars in the southern sky, and Saturn not far to the left of Mars. Venus passed behind the sun in early June, but by mid-July, it emerges into our early evening sky very low in the west-northwest bright twilight glow, 20 minutes after sunset. Look from a place with a view unobstructed by mountains, and use binoculars to help you spot Venus in bright twilight in its first weeks. Binoculars will reveal Mercury near Venus from mid-July until late August. That’ll bring the total to all five bright planets visible simultaneously! Attend a star party hosted by one of the local astronomy clubs for telescopic views of Jupiter’s cloud belts and four largest moons; Saturn’s spectacular rings and largest moon Titan; the south polar cap and…