adventures in nature

old friends in the Sky – and five planets in view over the next two weeks!

There is something familiar to me about this scene, and during this time of year I find it comforting to look up into a clear sky to see these stars shining down on me. How many of my ancestors looked up at the same sky and felt comforted too?

Easy to identify in the middle of the picture is the belt of Orion. In the bottom left portion of the frame is our brightest star in the sky, Sirius, the “Dog Star” (part of Canis major), one that has long been used for navigation and other purposes by our ancestors. Above it to the left is Procyon (8th brightest star in the sky, part of Canis minor), and forming a triangle with those two is Betelgeuse (9th brightest star in the sky) shining just above the Orion’s belt, also part of that constellation. The light of the waning moon (full yesterday) is illuminating some clouds on the left portion of the photo.

Don’t miss the special event over the next few weeks when all five of the planets visible to the naked eye are in view together! It occurs each morning just before dawn (45 min before) on the Eastern horizon. See this article in the Sky and Telescope magazine website for more details (SkyandTelescope.com).

Here's the view 45 minutes before sunrise as plotted for February 1st, about when Mercury should be easiest to spot. For several days the waning Moon is marching eastward among the assembled planets. Sky & Telescope diagram - See more at: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/press-releases/five-planets-at-once/#sthash.rfuYXBXp.dpuf

Here’s the view 45 minutes before sunrise as plotted for February 1st, about when Mercury should be easiest to spot. For several days the waning Moon is marching eastward among the assembled planets.
Sky & Telescope diagram – See more at: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/press-releases/five-planets-at-once/#sthash.rfuYXBXp.dpuf

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