Definitely worth passing along for any and everyone to enjoy over these coming weeks to in our beautiful dusk evenings. :)
Planets Aligning in the Sunset Sky
May 10, 2013:
Sunset is a special time of day. Low-hanging clouds glow vivid red and
orange as the background sky turns cobalt blue. The first stars pop out
in the heavenly dome overhead, eliciting wishes from backyard sky
The sunset of May 26th will be extra special. On that date, Venus,
Jupiter and Mercury will gather in the fading twilight to form a bright
triangle only three degrees wide.
Triple conjunctions of planets are fairly rare. The last time it
happened was in May 2011, and it won't happen again until October 2015.
This triple is especially good because it involves the three brightest
planets in May's night sky: #1, Venus; #2, Jupiter; and #3, Mercury.
The triangle will be visible even in places with heavy urban light
The best time to look is about 30 to 60 minutes after sunset. The
three planets will be hugging the horizon, so a clear view of the
western sky is essential.
Let Venus be your guide. It pops out of the fading twilight long
before the others. As soon as you locate Venus, look in that direction
using binoculars. If your binoculars are typical, all three planets
will fit in the eyepiece simultaneously. As the twilight continues to
fade, set the optics aside; eventually the triangle will become visible
to the naked eye.
You don't have to wait until May 26th to enjoy the show, however.
The planets start gathering weeks earlier. Dates of special interest
May 11th through 13th, when the crescent Moon, Venus, and Jupiter
form a long diagonal line jutting upward from the sunset;
May 23rd, when Jupiter and Venus converge to less than 5 degrees apart, close enough for simultaneous binocular viewing;
May 24th, when Mercury passes Venus less than 2 degrees away,
giving shape to the triangle that reaches maximum compactness two nights
later on May 26th.
The triangle begins to disperse on May 27th, but even then the
show is not over. On May 28th, Venus passes Jupiter at a distance of 1
degree, forming a truly spectacular pair.
From beginning to end, the three naked-eye planets will be close
enough to fit inside the field of ordinary binoculars from May 23rd
until early June. May 26th is just the best among many very good nights.
Step outside, face west, and observe the planets. It's a beautiful way to end the day.