Today Mercury is passing through inferior conjunction, passing between the Sun and the Earth. This fast moving planet will reappear above the dawn in about a week, rising towards maximum elongation on April 11th.
This is the most favorable dawn apparition of the year, actually the best dawn or evening, with the planet reaching over 27° away from the Sun.
Today Mercury is passing through maximum elongation, the furthest it will rise above the setting Sun in the evening sky. After today the planet will slide back into the Sun’s glare headed for inferior conjunction on March 14th
This is a modest apparition, with the planet only 18° from the Sun at maximum. The next evening apparition in June is much better, reaching over 25° from the Sun.
This evening will feature a 6 day old crescent Moon 7° from Mars. Look for a bright orange object a few degrees north (to the right) and a bit below the Moon to spot the planet. Mars should be bright and obvious at about +1 magnitude next to the Moon.
Today Mercury is passing through superior conjunction, passing around the far side of the Sun as seen from our earthbound vantage point. This fast moving planet will reappear in the sunset in about a week, rising towards maximum elongation on February 26th.
This will be a modest apparition, with the planet only 18° from the Sun at maximum. The next evening apparition in June is much better, reaching over 25° from the Sun.
Today Venus is passing through maximum elongation, the highest elevation it will attain in the dawn sky for this apparition.
The planet is currently 47° ahead of the rising Sun. After today the brilliant planet will slide back into the glow of dawn headed for superior conjunction on August 13th, and an evening apparition starting in mid-September.
Today Saturn passes through superior conjunction, rounding the far side of the Sun as seen from our earthbound vantage point.
Saturn will re-emerge in the dawn sky towards the end of the month. Look for the planet low in the glow of dawn, rising higher each day. It will swing by Venus on February 18th, passing about a degree away.
Saturn will pass through opposition on July 9th, crossing into the evening sky.
Looking ahead to 2017 it appears that the skies will be kind to us this coming year. We have good meteor showers, a total eclipse of the Sun, a bright comet or two, and the usual planetary conjunctions to look forward to. Below you will find some on my notes to what we can look forward to during the coming year.
As is my practice I have spent more than a few evenings loading up DarkerView with scheduled posts for the year. Well over a hundred posts are set as reminders for the interesting astronomical events for 2017. It is a useful effort, as I can see for myself what the year will bring and begin my planning.
Covered are elongations for Mercury and Venus, interesting conjunctions, oppositions, eclipses and meteor showers. Posts include notes for visibility in the Hawaiian islands for those events that are location dependent.
Only once before have I seen Jupiter and Venus this close, many years ago. Being close enough to fit in the same eyepiece field is quite interesting, particularly with enough magnification to see the moons and planet details well.
If you have not been paying attention the evening planet dance is in full swing, Mercury, Venus and Jupiter all in close attendance.
This evening was the close approach of Jupiter and Venus. I set up a telescope briefly to capture the conjunction. More than a little overexposed, but you can see the moons of Jupiter this way…