The Five Planets are back: see all of them at a glance, next August 2016
This 2016 has been, so far, particularly generous with us, considering the visibility of the planets. Last Feb., we had all the five,classic planets visible at a glance, providing a stunning planetary parade. It really was a spectacular show! Eh? Did you miss it? Ok, you are not lost, there is a new opportunity coming shortly, so please be ready: this upcoming August is your month!
For a few days, around Aug. 15, Venus, Mercury, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn will show up there shortly after the sunset. Mercury will be particularly critical to see, if you live north of the equator: the planet will be just an handful of degrees above the bright, western horizon. You will need a very clear horizon, spanning from South to West.
First of all, you will want to see the five planets with your very eyes. A pair of binocular will help a lot, providing a far better view to spot Mercury. Once located each planet this way, you can try to spot all of them with your plain eyes. Trust us: you will be happy with this quick, personal grand-tour of the Solar System.
This planetary parade, while harder to see (southern hemisphere people will be much better placed), will have a good bonus for you: the five planets will be within only 90 degrees! This will help you to capture a nice group image with relatively normal lenses. Last Feb., the five planets covered more than 115 degrees and you needed an unusual lens, as a fish-eye.
If you want to grab a picture, consider a nice spot of your landscape, it will add its beauty to the final capture. These celestial events are perfect to discover interesting connections between the Heaven & Earth. Furthermore, they do not need an expensive setup, just try with what you have handy.
Now it is up to you: you can choose to go out there and look up, getting what the sky has to offer, or miss it and wait for the next five planets parade.
But that is NOT all. Next 27/28 Aug., an epic, very close conjunction between Jupiter and Venus will put a memorable show out there, with the planets coming as close as 4 arcminutes (almost 1/8 of the angular diameter of the Moon…). So, after looking at the five planets, keep your binocular handy.
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