Image Credit & Copyright: William G. Justo.

Check out this beautiful sunset image of the inferior planets, Venus and Mercury by William G. Justo captured on January 6, 2015 from San Jose, CA. Be sure to check out more of his work in the links below.

See all 7 planets (We’re on Earth so..…) in a single night while it lasts!

If you haven’t seen the show Hesperus (Venus’s name when it appears as an evening star) and Hermes (Mercury’s name when it appears as an evening star) been putting on make sure you find a western horizon at sunset and have a look. Mercury reaches its closest point to Venus on January 10 but anytime between the 8th and 12th will be a great sight. As you observe both in the same binocular view, know that the two won’t meet up this closely again until May of 2016 but their elongations won’t be as favorable so it will likely be too close to the Sun to observe directly.   Mercury reaches greatest eastern elongation (which means you see it at its highest point in the west) of about 19 degrees in elevation on January 14.

On a side note, as these two speedy planets come out from behind the Sun they are currently further from Earth than the Sun itself. As they approach Earth to pass it (known as apparition) they will grow in size while at the same time the disk of the planets will become more and more of a thin crescent.

This week also offers a fairly rare treat as telescope observers can observe all 7 planets in a single night beginning with Mercury and Venus at sunset in the constellation Capricornus. On their heels in Aquarius is the Red Planet, Mars followed by Neptune with Uranus trailing behind in Pisces. You won’t see Neptune and Uranus without a telescope but if you have one try to catch them as high as possible before they get into the distorting effects found low on the horizon. By now Jupiter had made its appearance rising with Leo in the east which you can’t miss and with opposition coming up on February 6th it’s primed for telescope viewing. If you didn’t know, here’s the scoop! https://danspace77.com/2014/12/31/now-is-the-time-to-observe-jupiter-2/

Before sunrise in the east, Saturn will close out the parade of the planets as it rises with the constellation Libra just before the quickly rising Sun washes it away.

What about Pluto? Well, I would definitely have added the little fella in there but it’s traveling in the constellation Sagittarius behind the Sun for the time being. With it being incredibly challenging to observe even with a telescope at night you likely wouldn’t locate it anyhow. Asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres (which is also about to be in the headlines) are also hidden behind the glare of daylight in Sagittarius as well. https://danspace77.com/2014/12/11/the-dawn-of-a-new-understanding-set-to-begin/.

Get out there and join the club of those who have seen all 7 planets in a single night! If you don’t have a telescope, the 5 major planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are still naked eye visible so enjoy!

William G. Justo Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/spiritedstormywgj9254/

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  1. stevend says:

    I never knew that Hesperus and Hermes referred to their names as evening stars. Thank you.

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