Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Last Few Days to See 5 Planets in Early AM Sky

http://en.es-static.us/upl/2016/02/5-planets-NHemisphere-cp.jpg

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

There are only a few days left to see all five naked-eye planets, at the same time, in the early morning sky. Soon, Mercury will be too close to the Sun to see for Northern Hemisphere observers (although, Southern Hemisphere viewers may be able to find Mercury until the end of the month), but the other four planets will still be visible for awhile.

Of course, as with all celestial observing, seeing these planets will be only possible, weather permitting. And, sometimes the weather is not so permitting in the middle of Winter. To see all five planets, you need to be looking just before dawn.

As can be seen in the graphic above (Image Source: EarthSky.org ), these five celestial 'wanderers,' that have been viewed for centuries with the naked-eyes by our ancestors, have been in view for about a month in the early morning sky. This somewhat rare observation opportunity is quickly coming to a close, as fast-moving Mercury falls back toward the Sun.

The last time all five naked-eye visible planets were seen at the same time, before sunrise in the early morning sky, was from the middle of December in 2004 to the middle of January in 2005. There was also a gathering of these five planets in the early evening sky, during the last half of March of 2004.

Probably the best time to view these five planets together, after this month, will not come until the year 2036, when the five planets will be visible in the early evening sky. Although Mercury will be very close to the horizon and difficult to spot, some observers may be able to find all five planets, for a short time, in the early morning sky in June of 2022, or possibly in the early evening sky in February of 2025.

For a very brief time this-coming August (August 13 to 19), there may be a chance for some people to see all five planets in the early evening sky. However, Mercury and Venus may be hard to find, as they will be close to the horizon.

More information from EarthSky.org :
Link 1 >>> http://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/visible-planets-tonight-mars-jupiter-venus-saturn-mercury
Link 2 >>>  http://earthsky.org/science-wire/when-will-all-five-visible-planets-appear-simultaneously

Weekly Planet Roundup (at end of web page) from Sky and Telescope Magazine:
Link >>> http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/sky-at-a-glance/this-weeks-sky-at-a-glance-february-12-20/

Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.
              2016 February 17.

                                                               Historic 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.
        2016: 75th Year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium Observatory
                     Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com

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gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
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Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
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