Why am I looking up?August 10, 2016
“Watch all the 5 bright planets in a rare alignment, just after sunset.”
I walked outside last night to view this phenomenon and was greeted by a thunderstorm…much rain which was appreciated…and a power outage that is still going on (not so much appreciated.)
If your skies are clear, read on:
“Venus, Mercury, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn, all the 5 planets will be visible just after sunset, during the first few weeks of August.
Venus and Mercury, aren’t so easy see. They are to close to the Western horizon.
This month, there will be conjunctions between the moon and Venus on August 3, the moon and Mercury on August 4, and the moon and Jupiter on August 5. Jupiter and Mercury come closest together for the month on August 19, and then Venus and Jupiter stage a very close conjunction on August 27.
Alan Duffy, an astronomer at Swinburne University of Technology in Australia, explains:
“The fainter planets that lie closer to the Sun, such as Mercury and Venus, will be difficult to see so it is best to wait until after sunset for the twilight to fully fade, but before the planets set.
The planets stretch across the sky, anchored to the horizon following the setting Sun.
This is because the entire Solar System is flat like an old vinyl record with the planets moving along these grooves of the record. Looking out from the Earth we will see this as a straight line, known as the ecliptic plane, tracing across the sky.”