Wednesday, December 21, 2011

7 planets visible in the sky this week

Geoff Gaherty, Starry Night Education ( via Yahoo! News)
Planet finder searches for exoplanets. Having found many of them, paid scientists now tow party line that they are "too hot" for life (

This week presents a rare opportunity to see all the major planets of the solar system in a single night.

Just after sunset tonight (Dec. 21) the two brightest planets will be shining, weather permitting. Venus, the brightest, rides low in the southwest just above the setting sun. Jupiter, the second brightest planet, is high in the south.

If you have a telescope, you can find Uranus and Neptune between Venus and Jupiter. The sloping line across the sky that the four planets define is called the ecliptic, because it is the line along which eclipses take place.

Int'l Space Station in Buddhism's akasha deva loka, near-Earth orbit (

The sky maps of the planets available here show where to look to try to spot them this week. Get up around 6:00 am local time tomorrow morning, and you can see the rest of the planets.

The ecliptic is now sloping in the opposite direction, and along it are arrayed Mercury, the Moon, Saturn, and Mars. In the background are three of the brightest stars in the sky: Arcturus, Regulus, and Spica.

Pay particular attention to Spica because, over the next year, the Moon will make numerous close passes near Spica, actually passing in front of the star and occulting... More

The exo-planet count keeps growing, some covered in ice (

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