Three Planets To Align, Will Be Visible With The Naked Eye
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Three Planets To Align, Will Be Visible With The Naked Eye

Ottawa : Canada | Aug 07, 2010 at 10:52 PM PDT
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My Son is a science student and everything affecting the universe appeals to him. He showed this to me so I am reprinting it for those who are interested.

Source Jordan Chittley Yahoo! Canada News

" If you are outside shortly after dusk in the next few days, look toward the western horizon. Venus, Mars and Saturn will all be visible to the naked eye from anywhere in Canada as long as there are clear skies.

While alignments of multiple stars happen every few years, this time it "happens to be three you can see with the naked eye," said Mike Reid, professor of astronomy at the University of Toronto. "This is exactly what we want astronomy students to see."

The other interesting fact, according to Reid, is that all the planets are different colours and people should be able to differentiate them because of the proximity. The three planets will only be visible for 60 to 90 minutes immediately after sundown. After about 90 minutes they will fall below the horizon. "Venus orbits close to the sun so after sunset, Venus goes down with it," said Reid. The best nights to view the planets will be Saturday and Sunday evening, at which point all three will be within a five-degree circle.

To give you an idea of how close that is, the diameter of a clinched fist at arm's length is about 10 degrees. All three planets will be visible about 15 degrees above the horizon 30 minutes after sunset and will sink toward the horizon for the next hour until they slip out of our sight. "The trick is it happens close to the horizon," said Reid. "Anything that is bright and grazing the horizon is probably a planet." He suggests going somewhere with not much light pollution, such as a suburban area or a park, and somewhere with no obstruction of the western horizon. "Almost everyone has seen the planets and thought they were stars," said Reid.

The planets will probably be the first bright thing you'll see after sunset. Venus is the easiest one to spot, but yellow Saturn and red-orange Mars will be more difficult, as they shine about 1/150th as brightly as white Venus. The planets each move at their own speeds and along their own tracks to these meetings.

Three or more of the planets have met twice before in the past decade. In May 2000 and May 2002, several planets aligned prompting astrological predictions of earthquakes, floods and wars - nothing happened in either year. While the instance in 2000 was a visually better display, Reid said the three planets that met were too close to the sun. He said, "I encourage people to go out and have a look."

How to take a great astrophoto.

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mrspleats is based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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