AM and PM Planets

Three planets remain visible in the evening sky this week.

Venus

Venus continues to shine brightly low in the western sky after sunset — setting about 8 pm local time. Looking southwest, dimmer, yellowish Saturn sits about 6° above the twinkling star Antares, the brightest star in Scorpius the Scorpion. Bright, reddish Mars is more southerly, well off to the east (left) of Saturn. I’ll post a diagram here. Saturn sets about 9:30 pm local time, followed by Mars about 11 pm.

Uranus

Image via Star Walk 2 app

Uranus, sitting in the “V” of Pisces the Fishes, sits low in the eastern sky about 8 pm local time. It reaches opposition on the 15th, making it the closest for the year and visible all night. Neptune, sitting about 2° (two finger widths) to the right of the star Lambda Aquarii in Aquarius the Water-Bearer, is also already up at dusk. They don’t move much from week to week.

Mercury

Image via Star Walk 2 app

Mercury is finishing a short, but spectacular viewing opportunity for northern hemisphere observers. Early this week, the little planet rises in the east an hour before the Sun, but every morning it drops sunward a little. Try to see it between 6:15 am local time (shortly after it rises) until about 7 am.

Jupiter

Jupiter is climbing the eastern pre-dawn sky, passing close to Mercury on October 11 when the two planets will fit within a small telescope’s field of view at low magnification. As Jupiter climbs out of the dawn glow every morning, it will appear to shine more brightly. By the coming weekend, it will be rising at 6:15 am local time.

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