Dance of the Planets

   Over a period of the next two weeks the planets Venus, Uranus, and Mars are all more or less in the same direction, or line of sight as we see them in the evening skies. Not an alignment straight out from the earth, but rather they are arranged along the ecliptic from west to east. From an overhead view you can see that the three planets are at a point along their respective orbital path where they are viewed in the same direction.

   Since the planets are in motion, as also is the Earth, The three planets, Venus, Uranus, and Mars will all come together in conjunctions beginning with a triple conjunction on March 4th when the three will easily fit within the field of view of binoculars as they graphic shows. On that day the ‘gap’ between Venus and Uranus will be 0.09o making this the closest planet-planet conjunction for the year.
Then on March 11th Mars and Uranus will be in a planet-planet conjunction and they will be separated by 0.27o. This will be close enough to fit both within the field of view of a 25mm eyepiece in an 8″ Reflecting telescope.

February 28th to March 15th

February 28th to March 15th at 7:30pm CST and CDT)

   This animated graphic (with greatly exaggerated planet size and separations) is set to 1-day intervals. In addition to the motions of the planets relative to each other the part of the sky where the conjunctions take place is gradually getting closer to the horizon and the Sun. This is a result of the Earth’s orbital motion causing the sky to shift toward the west each day and the Sun’s apparent eastward motion.

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.

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