My Very Educated Mother Just Served

Jul 25, 2016

a plethora of planets..
Credit Eliot-Herman-Tucson-AZ / earthsky.org

This week Bruce enumerates on the planets currently visible in our night sky.  

As residents of Southern Colorado we are afforded a spectacular view  for the next several weeks of six naked eye planets in our evening skies. Starting shortly after sunset you can tour the original planets known to our ancient ancestors.

One quick way to know if you are looking at a planet and not a star is to remember the old children’s song.  Did you ever sing “twinkle, twinkle little planet”?  As a general rule; stars twinkle, planets don’t. 

Starting in the far west above the setting Sun is the white diamond of Venus.  Venus is returning from the far side of its orbit and will be rising higher in the evening skies through the next several months.  It will be reach it highest in January of 2017.

Next as we move across the sky away from Venus is Mercury. The closest planet to the Sun is elusive in its 88 days orbit, so catching it is a treat. It will be dimmer and to the left of Venus.

Continue to sweep away from the setting Sun toward the South to find our next Kingly Planet – Jupiter.  Jupiter will be dimmer than Venus in the sky but still very dominate.

Moving further around into the southeastern sky you will find the red orb of Mars. Be careful not to confuse Mars with the bright red star below it - Antares.

Continue our planetary tour by looking to the left from Mars for a yellowish gem - the ringed giant Saturn.  Saturn is the most distant of our naked worlds taking 29 and a half years to orbit the Sun.  Saturn is currently in the 13th Zodiac constellation of Ophiuchus.

As for our sixth planet of our evening tour, its position is unique to let us view all these other worlds.  Just take a look downward.

If you’d like to take a closer look at any of these planets, or any of the other wonderful and amazing things in the sky, please visit CSASTRO.org for a link to information on our monthly meetings and our free public star parties! 

This is Bruce Bookout for the Colorado Springs Astronomical Society, telling you to keep looking up, Southern Colorado!