Friday, March 16, 2012

Venus and Jupiter Putting on a Show

We have had a great week of viewing for the planetary conjunction.  Venus and Jupiter have switched places and now Venus is the one higher in the sky as darkness falls.  This picture was taken on March 14 by a visitor to the Cincinnati Observatory, Bill Keel.  You can see the old Mitchel Telescope pointed through the dome with Venus on the right, Jupiter on the left (click on it for a bigger version).

For the rest of the month, the two planets will appear to spread out in the sky.  Jupiter will be the first to ride off into the sunset later in April.  But Venus will be blazing away in the western sky until mid-May.

After you've found Venus and Jupiter, turn 180 degrees.  In the opposite sky you'll find a pretty bright star that is decidedly "redder" than the others (hint hint).  That's the planet Mars.  And if you can stay up a little later, Saturn rises with a blue star next to it (called Spica) at about 11:30 in the southeast. So this weekend see if you can catch four planets in one night!