Planets Near and Far

Seth Jarvis

On Sunday, October 6th you’ll want to take a look outside at about 7:30 PM and look to the west-southwest.  The first thing you’ll see against the southwestern horizon is the planet Venus, shining very brightly.

October 6, 2013 Night Sky

October 6, 2013 Night Sky

Now look about twenty degrees to the right of Venus, and a little lower towards the horizon.  (Twenty degrees is about twice the width of your clenched fist held at arm’s length.)

If the weather cooperates you’ll see the two day-old super-thin crescent Moon smack in between the planets Saturn (above the Moon) and Mercury (below the Moon).

Solar System on October 6, 2013

Solar System on October 6, 2013

How is it possible to be looking at Mercury, a planet very close to the Sun, and Saturn, a planet that’s very far from the Sun, so close together in the same part of the sky?  The diagram of our solar system for October 6th should make it clear.

You may want to use binoculars, and you should try to be looking at as flat a western horizon as you can.

Enjoy!

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