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Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

Astronomy

30 Jun 2020
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Good news for evening viewers! Jupiter and closely following Saturn are rising about a half-hour earlier per week, so by the dates of their respective oppositions, on the nights of July 14 and 20, they reach peak brilliance and will have just risen at sunset. As darkness descends, the beautiful pair of giant planets will be in the east-southeast, in the deep blue part of the sky, opposite the sun’s direction. After their oppositions, Jupiter and Saturn will remain visible in the evening sky until early in January 2021. If you enjoy the cool of the morning, then centering your outings 60 to 90 minutes before sunrise will give you many planetary visual treats—including Venus reaching peak brilliance in the east. Starting July 1, Venus slowly moves across the Hyades star cluster until passing just 1 degree north of Aldebaran July 11 and 12. By then, Jupiter and Saturn are…
28 May 2020
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Midday on June 20 (12:48 p.m. in Palm Springs), the sun passes only 10 degrees south of overhead in the Coachella Valley. Summer officially begins at 2:44 p.m., when the sun is exactly over the Tropic of Cancer, east-northeast of Hawaii. My advice: Avoid the intense light and heat of midday! Get out during the cool predawn, mostly between 90 minutes and one hour before sunrise, to enjoy the lineup of three or four naked-eye planets. On mornings in June, Jupiter and Saturn will catch your eye, because they’re only 5-6 degrees apart, drifting across the sky from the south to southwest—Jupiter is the brighter, westernmost member of the pair—while moving little among the stars near the border of Sagittarius and Capricornus. Mars moves from Aquarius into Pisces in June, yet strangely stays fixed in the southeast those 30 mornings, while the zodiac background seems to scroll westward behind the…
30 Apr 2020
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May features the departure of Venus from the western evening sky just days after its close pairing with Mercury. In the southern predawn sky, Jupiter and Saturn remain in “quasi-conjunction,” within 5 degrees all month, while brightening Mars widens its distance to the lower left of our solar system’s giant planets. Every spring, in nightly outings during the first hour after sunset, you can enjoy following the seasonal departure of bright stars into the western twilight glow. In order of date, they are Rigel, Aldebaran, the Dog Star Sirius and Betelgeuse, as well as—before the end of May this year—Venus. A close conjunction of departing Venus with emerging Mercury will take place on May 21. By the start of June, of winter’s luminaries, only the spring arch of four bright stars remains: from left to right, Procyon, the “Twins” Pollux and Castor, and Capella. Using a telescope or binoculars held…

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