Sunday, February 26, 2012

Planets Align: Venus, Jupiter, Mercury, Mars & Moon To Appear Sunday

Note to the blue watchers: Put on your coats. What you’re about to read might make you feel an unmanageable urge to dash outside.

solar system

The brightest planets in the solar system are lining up in the evening sky, and you can see the formation—some of it at least—tonight.

The planets Venus and Jupiter dominate the western evening sky at sunset on Sunday, with the crescent moon hovering nearby. The planet Mercury joins the cosmic trio briefly just after sunset before slipping below the horizon, according to Tariq Malik of

The planet Mars is also making its own appearance in the evening sky, but rises in the east a few hours after sunset in its own solo celestial show.

The sky maps of Jupiter, Venus and the moon here show how the bright objects, as well as Mars later, will appear in the night sky.

"This is a great weekend to watch the sun go down. Venus, Jupiter and the slender crescent moon are lining up in the western sky, forming a bright triangle in the evening twilight," astronomer Tony Phillips of the skywatching website wrote in an alert. "These three objects are so bright, they shine through thin clouds and even city lights." [Skywatcher Photos: Jupiter, Venus & the Moon]

The Moon, Venus and Jupiter are the brightest objects in the night sky; together they can shine through urban lights, fog, and even some clouds.

After hopping from Venus to Jupiter in late February, the Moon exits stage left, but the show is far from over.

In March, Venus and Jupiter continue their relentless convergence until, on March 12 and 13, the duo lie only three degrees apart—a spectacular double beacon in the sunset sky (sky map).

There’s something mesmerizing about stars and planets bunched together in this way—and, no, you’re not imagining things when it happens to you. The phenomenon is based on the anatomy of the human eye.

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