Look Up Planetary Parade Continues Through September

first_img Scientists Discover Possible Interstellar VisitorWater Vapor Detected on Potentially ‘Habitable’ Planet Stay on target The glow of summer is almost over. But the season’s astronomical phenomenon has not yet finished.There is plenty of time to join the planetary party, which continues through Labor Day.Multiple planets (and the Moon) recently met up to form a rare alignment that hasn’t occurred in more than a decade, according to Butler University.Venus, Jupiter, the Moon, Saturn, and Mars last week lined up across the sky, forming a stunning intergalactic parade, best viewed Friday and Saturday nights.Missed the stellar show? You should be able to spot a panorama of planets over the coming weeks, The Washington Post advised. Just grab a sweater, clean your glasses, head outside after sunset, and look south.Scanning west to east, second-planet-from-the-Sun Venus hangs low in the sky from dusk into the evening; gas giants Jupiter (observed this week in the constellation Libra) and Saturn follow. Our red neighbor Mars, meanwhile, climbs the early evening eastern sky, the Post said, citing Butler professor of physics and astronomy Brian Murphy.“This is not a one-and-done event,” he told the paper. “It’s going to be a slow transition … as the four planets are strung across the sky each evening.”In the days leading up to the Full Sturgeon Moon on Aug. 26, the brightening orb can be seen rising in the east about an hour before the Sun sets in the west.Some sky gazers may have already noticed a brighter-than-usual Mars: The second-smallest planet in July reached opposition with the Sun, offering Earth observers their closest view of the sphere since 2003.The next extra-close Martian opposition will occur in September 2035.“It’s an ideal time to get out and see the planets,” Murphy, director of Butler’s Holcomb Observatory and Planetarium, said in a statement.”Usually we don’t have four planets visible at once in a good viewing location, along with a quarter Moon, which is the ideal time to view the Moon.“And they’re all evenly spaced,” he added. “If you ignore the Sun, these are the four brightest objects in the sky we’re talking about.”It’s hard to know exactly when this lineup will happen again, but Murphy expects something similar in two years—and then not again for a long time.A slightly modified version of this month’s procession lingers in September, when the waxing crescent Moon will appear to float above Venus in the west-southwestern sky (on the 12th).Earth’s satellite is set to visit Jupiter on the 13th, then Saturn from Sept. 16 to 17. By the time it reaches the waxing gibbous stage on the 19th, the Moon will be sliding past Mars.The autumnal equinox is Sept. 22 in the US; the Full Harvest Moon will be Sept. 24.Outer space has provided fodder for a number of recent breakthroughs, including news of water ice on the Moon, the discovery of the oldest-ever galaxies, and possible hiding places for extraterrestrials. Find out more here.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.last_img

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