A planetary trio will waltz in the western sky

Greg Redfern, wtop.com

If the skies remain clear for the next several days, be sure to take a peek in the western sky 30 to 45 minutes after sunset – you will be treated to a changing and beautiful sky show involving Venus, Jupiter and Mercury, the three brightest planents (in that order).

The view will be enhanced if you can find a clear western sky view free of trees, buildings and bright lights. If you have binoculars, they will help you view the planets and their colors bit better.

If you can look each night, you’ll see how the planetary trio changes with respect to one another. Jupiter will move lower each night, while Venus and Mercury rise. The planets are on the opposite side of the solar system from Earth and all three, as well as our planet, move in their orbits around the Sun. This is what causes the view to change from day to day.

Such a triple planet appearance, especially involving bright planets, is fairly rare. We will not have another one involving bright planets until 2026. More details are here.

Enjoy the sky show, and try taking some digital pictures by placing your camera on a tripod and taking a few exposures. This will give you a pretty record of the movement of the planets this month.

Follow my daily blog to keep up with the latest news in astronomy and space exploration. You can email me at skyguyinva@gmail.com.

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