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Planet Mars

Mars Opposition 2020: It’s Time to Look for the Red Planet

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For the next few weeks, Mars will get bigger and brighter, making this an ideal time to take a series of photos over many nights to record the changes. It will remain visible for the next 12+ months as it dawdles along in its orbit, falling further and further behind until it is on the opposite side of the Sun from Earth and we can no longer see it. The opposition will occur at 2320 UT on October 13, 2020, when the diameter of Mars reaches 22.4 arcsec.  Mars captured through my telescope on Sept 20, 2020. In the weeks leading up to the opposition, Mars will brighten gradually. B…

Planets in Pre-Dawn Sky

5 Visible Planets at Once

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I woke up at 5:30am this morning to attempt to photograph the 5 visible planets at dawn. This astronomical event is rather rare, and will only be possible for about 2 more weeks. Seeing the 5 brightest planets simultaneously has not been possible since 2005! The first week of February is the absolute best time to see all five planets in the pre-dawn sky. Mercury is by far the hardest planet to spot because of it never strays too far from the sun from our perspective. However, it's proximity to Venus and the waning crescent moon makes it much easier to locate this week. [caption id="at…

transit of venus

Once in a Lifetime Event

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On June 5th, 2012, I witnessed the Planet Venus transit the Sun from my backyard. I used an Orion 4.5" Skyquest Dobsonian telescope with a homemade solar filter to observe the event. My parents joined me to watch with their solar glasses on. I remember the feeling of watching the Sun up close through the telescope as I bathed in the warmth of our star at the same time. It was a memorable experience. The most interesting part of the event for me, was that the planet Venus begain to cross in fron of the Sun at the exact moment it was scheduled to. It's truly amazsing how predictable the mo…