Dance of the Inner Planets

   Granted that is not an original title but it is a good description of the orbital motions of the two inner planets, Mercury and Venus, over the next couple of weeks. Both planets are on the east side of the Sun, and both are moving from superior conjunction eastward to their respective eastern elongations. Mercury, as the innermost of the two, is moving more quickly than Venus, and while Mercury will not overtake Venus, it (Mercury) will nearly do so. Follow their respective daily motions with this animated graphic, in the real world outdoors, or if your local weather has been overcast like where I live then use the slideshow below for a virtual observation!
    On January 11th Mercury will come within nearly 0.5o from Venus, and a few days later, on the 14th, Mercury will reach its greatest eastern elongation, while the reletively slower moving Venus reaches its eastern elongation in June. From eastern elongation Mercury will begin retrograde motion as it moves westward toward inferior conjunction on the 30th. Both are currently setting about an hour after sunset.

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Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

One thought on “Dance of the Inner Planets

  1. Pingback: Mercury Meets Venus | Bob's Spaces

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