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Planet Triple Play: Saturn, Mars and Venus Appear Together

Posted by on Jun. 3, 2010 at 5:48 PM
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If you live in the northern hemisphere, go out any night this week an hour or so after sunset and look at the western sky to catch a planetary triple play starring Venus, Saturn and Mars.

The first thing skywatchers will see — weather permitting — is the brilliant planet Venus, slightly north of west, in the constellation Gemini. Look for Gemini's twin first magnitude stars, Pollux and Castor, just above Venus.

As the sky gets darker, the planet Mars can be spotted to Venus' left as it appears in the constellation Leo very close to the bright, first magnitude star Regulus. Further still to the left will be Saturn shining in the western part of the constellation Virgo.

This sky map shows how to spot all three planets as they appear across a 71-degree angle in the night sky. For comparison, your closed fist held at arm's length covers about 5 degrees of arc in the sky.

Venus, Mars and Saturn are all currently appearing slightly north of the ecliptic, the path the sun appears to follow over the year, shown in green in the sky map. [More Mars photos.]

Note the positions of these three planets in relation to the bright background stars, because they are beginning an interesting journey which you will be able to follow over the next two months.

In early July, Venus will have moved rapidly to the left, crossing Cancer into Leo so that now it is next to the star Regulus. Mars, meanwhile, will have moved somewhat to the left. Saturn appears to have hardly moved at all.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/planettripleplaysaturnmarsandvenusappeartogether

by on Jun. 3, 2010 at 5:48 PM
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