March 14th   Leave a comment

Four planets are showing well above Crail at the moment. We have had some lovely clear nights this week and they have been very obvious. Both Jupiter and Venus are very bright in the western sky in the early evening until about midnight. Venus is the really bright one and Jupiter less so. You can see both planets show obvious disks through binoculars and through a telescope you can see several of Jupiter’s moons and at least a couple of bands. In the eastern sky Mars is showing as a very bright twinkly red star, starting low down at dusk and moving higher and round to the south by about 11 in the evening. By this time Saturn has also risen, in more or less the same place that Mars started four hours before. Saturn is a modestly bright star, one of two (the right hand one) low down due east at about 22:45. Through binoculars it looks odd for a star – oval in shape rather than a twinkly spot (it doesn’t matter how good your binoculars are, stars don’t look any different, whereas the planets resolve themselves into shapes). Through my 60x telescope I use for birding, Saturn is just fantastic. It is tilted away from us so we are seeing it from underneath. Tonight I could see the main gap between the rings, the rings themselves and a faint band on Saturn itself. The planets will all be visible for several weeks to come.

Posted March 18, 2012 by wildcrail in Sightings

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