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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Astronomy

27 Sep 2018
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The moon passes the three bright outer planets at dusk Oct. 11-18. Venus, in transition from the evening to the morning sky, is lost in sun’s glare for most of month. Around Halloween, Arcturus, low in west-northwest at dusk, leads a procession of bright stars through the night, and brings up the rear low in the east-northeast at dawn. At dusk: In early October, Venus sets very soon after sunset; it shows up on our evening twilight sky map for just the first few days of the month. Look for soon-to-depart Jupiter very low in the southwest to west-southwest; Saturn in the south-southwest; and Mars in the south-southeast. Before month’s end, Mercury begins an unfavorable evening appearance during which it will remain very low. Binoculars will come in handy for spotting Mercury within 5 degrees of Jupiter Oct. 25-Nov. 1. They’re closest, 3.2 degrees apart, on Oct. 28. Stars: Arcturus…
30 Aug 2018
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Four planets are still visible at dusk, until Venus departs in early October. Venus is very low in the west-southwest, with Jupiter in the southwest, and Mars in the south-southeast, standing out in brilliance. As Earth recedes from Mars, the red planet slips to third place in brightness, after Venus and Jupiter. Saturn, in the south, ranks sixth, a little fainter than the stars Arcturus in the west, and Vega just north of overhead. Other bright stars: Spica is 1.3 degrees to the upper right of Venus on Sept. 1 and sinks into bright twilight to the lower right of Venus by midmonth. Use binoculars to keep seeing Spica for a while longer. Antares is below a line joining Jupiter and Saturn. Altair and Deneb complete the Summer Triangle with Vega. Follow the moon from a thin crescent very low in the west on Sept. 10, to full, low south…
30 Jul 2018
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Evenings in August feature a spectacular panorama of four planets, including Venus, Jupiter and Mars far outshining all nighttime stars, and Saturn, ranking sixth in brilliance, after only those three planets and the stars Arcturus and Vega. Set up a telescope and share views of these four showpiece planets. For best results, view them in order from west to southeast at dusk: 1. Venus changes from gibbous to crescent phase, 57 percent full on Aug. 1, to 40 percent on the 31st. (Venus will be even more impressive in September, as it goes through thinner crescent phases, with the disk growing in apparent size as Venus approaches Earth.) 2. Jupiter shows its cloud belts and as many as all four of the bright moons discovered by Galileo. 3. Saturn displays its rings still tipped a generous 26 degrees into our view, with satellite Titan in a 16-day orbit. 4. Mars’…

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