Planet Roundup


gegenschein_beletsky_1182Starting around February 3rd, the zodiacal lights or Gegenschein, should be visible in the East for the next two weeks at the end of evening twilight. Is the night sky darkest in the direction opposite the Sun? No. In fact, a rarely discernible faint glow known as the gegenschein (German for "counter glow") can be seen 180 degrees around from the Sun in an extremely dark sky. The gegenschein is sunlight back-scattered off small interplanetary dust particles. These dust particles are millimeter sized splinters from asteroids and orbit in the ecliptic plane of the planets.

mercury.jpg.adapt.945.1Mercury, brightening from magnitude +1 to 0 in eastern Sagittarius, is low in the dawn sky. Using binoculars, look for it just above the east-southeast horizon about 45 minutes before sunrise.

Venus_globeVenus, at magnitude -4.7, near the Circlet of Pisces, is the dazzling "Evening Star" high in the southwest during and after twilight. It doesn't set until about 9 p.m. In a telescope Venus is now 30 arcseconds wide and a thick crescent 40% sunlit. Telescopically, Venus is best seen in bright twilight or even broad daylight. It has less glare when seen against a bright sky, and it's also higher in the sky.

stormy_atlantic_lrgEarth, is big, bright and hard to miss. Try looking down...

Mars---2Mars, near the border of eastern Sagittarius, is deep in the glow of sunrise.

image_2540e-CeresCeres, at magnitude 7.2, in the constelaltion Leo, is near δ Leonis, near the hind quarters of the great lion.

Jupiter_on_2010-06-07_(captured_by_the_Hubble_Space_Telescope)Jupiter, near central Capricorn, is deep in the glow of sunrise

real-pics-of-saturn-the-planet-dowloadSaturn, at magnitude +0.8, near the hind foot of Leo, rises around 8 or 9 p.m. and is highest in the south around 2 or 3 a.m. Don't confuse Saturn with similarly-bright Regulus 21° (about two fist-widths at arm's length) to its upper right after they rise, and more directly to its right in the early-morning hours. This week Saturn's rings are 1.3° to 1.4° from edge on. The rings will gradually open to 4° by late May, then will close to exactly edge-on early next September - when, unfortunately, Saturn will be out of sight practically in conjunction with the Sun.

Uranus db2617c819ec5e0567dabae9f6a72dc0Uranus, at magnitude 5.9 in Aquarius, below Venus at nightfall For help finding Uranus, see Uranus and Neptune in 2008.

NeptuneNeptune, is lost in the glow of sunset. For help finding Neptune, see Uranus and Neptune in 2015.

Planet-Pluto-Surface-HD-WallpaperPluto is very dim, at magnitude 14.0, in northwestern Sagittarius. It is low in the southeastern morning sky.

Eris at magnitude 21.0, in central Cetus, is not visible at night.Artist's_impression_dwarf_planet_Eris

haumea_1_lgHaumea at magnitude 17.7, in Boötes, is near the zenith around 5:00 a.m., a little more then a degree from τ Boötis.

This illustration shows Makemake, a plutoid located in a region beyond Neptune that is populated with small Solar System bodies (often referred to as the transneptunian region).  The object was discovered in 2005 by a team from the California Institute of Technology led by Mike Brown, and was previously known as 2005 FY9 (or unofficially "Easterbunny"). Visually, it is the second brightest transneptunian object, following after Pluto. The name Makemake was suggested by Mike Brown, in honour the creator of humanity and the god of fertility in the mythology of the South Pacific island of Rapa Nui or the Easter Island. Makemake was the chief god of the Tangata manu bird-man cult and was worshiped in the form of sea birds, which were his incarnation. His material symbol was a man with a bird's head. Members of the International Astronomical Union's Committee on Small Body Nomenclature (CSBN) and the IAU Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN) agreed with his proposal. Makemake at magnitude 17.3, in Coma Berenices, is high in the northwestern sky, a little more then a 1½° west of γ Comae Berenices, at the end of twilight and sets about 1 am.