A Planetary Triangle This Bank Holiday Weekend

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A Planetary Triangle This Bank Holiday Weekend

Post  Steve Williams on Thu May 23, 2013 7:30 am

The forthcoming bank holiday weekend offers the opportunity to see an interesting celestial asterism in the evening sky.

The two inner planets, Venus and Mercury and the giant Jupiter, gather to form a triangle low above the north-western horizon. Because this relatively rare gathering of three planets is taking place very low down, you may need to seek out a suitable site with a clear unobstructed view to the north-west.

The trio of planets rapidly change position over successive evenings which you will be able to follow with the unaided eye over this coming Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday evenings. Look around 9.30 to 9.45pm.

Steve Williams

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Venus and Mercury

Post  Harry Hamill on Sat Jun 08, 2013 9:41 am

I've just come in from a trip outside the village where a clear view of the western sky afforded a nice view of Mercury and Venus. I've been taking advantage of the recent conjunction between these two and Jupiter over the past couple of weeks. Jupiter is now pretty much out of the frame setting very soon after the sun.
I went out tonight at about 10.15pm BST. Venus was a bright star very low in the light twilight sky. I picked up Mercury straight away with binoculars at 'ten o'clock' taking Venus as the clock centre, and about five degrees away. Once spotted it was just visible to the naked eye.
By 10.45 Venus was no longer visible, theoretically still above the horizon but behind cloud very low in the west. Mercury was clearly visible to the naked eye though faint in the twilight which was still quite bright. It's magnitude at this time was 0.2 according to SkySafari. By comparison Capella, sparkling brightly some way to the north is around mag 0 and much more prominent largely because it was in a much darker sky.
A bonus for the outing was a low transit of the ISS in a fairly low loop through Virgo and Ophiuchus and finally eclipsing very low in the east past Altair. It was visible for around ten minutes.
Post script. As I write this having driven the mile back home and brewed a cup of tea, the ISS is over New Zealand. That's the way to travel!

Last edited by Harry Hamill on Sat Jun 08, 2013 9:47 am; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : Post script)

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