Planet Spectacle: The Show Will Start Soon

2018 Planet Visibility

Mar 2, 2018
Planet Venus

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This year will indeed be extraordinary for planets. We will see one of the closest approaches of Mars in our lives, in midsummer. We’ll have conjunctions galore. We’ll see all the planets lined up like a string of pearls. All that is mostly for the spring and summer. But the show is about to begin.

 ”I hope I die peacefully in my sleep like my father; not screaming and yelling like his passengers.”

What has that old line have to do with planets? Hang in there.

Have you missed the “Evening Star”? That brilliant luminary gracing the West in the evening twilight?  The planet Venus been gone for a year. But it’s coming back very soon.

Through my entire life it was always a thrill when I’d see it for the first time after a long absence. I still remember where I was when those first “Evening Star” sightings happened. On a funky local bus in southern Iran driving through the desert. On a hilltop in the mountains of Upstate New York, where I used the occasion to romantically offer an engagement ring. On a friend’s boat on the Hudson. On the Florida Turnpike where that lowdown sight of Venus with Mercury next to it made me screech on the brakes and pull onto the shoulder, and nearly bestowed heart attacks on the elderly couple in the back seat. (That’s what reminded me of the old line at the top of this blog).

Planet Venus Returns

Venus is now emerging from its position behind the Sun where it’s been lurking invisibly for months. It’s still lost in solar glare.

But each evening, 30 minutes after sunset, it’s ever so slightly higher up. And like that time on the Hudson, if you have a clear unobstructed view toward sunset, toward the west, one evening Venus will pop out for you, bright and very low. It might be tomorrow or it might be next month.

A Planet Line-Up March 18

If you haven’t seen Venus by March 18, circle that date on your calendar. That evening, say 35 minutes after sunset, an amazing line up will float just above the spot where the Sun set. From left to right the thin crescent moon, Venus, and the elusive planet Mercury, a don’t miss apparition.

Once Venus is established as a reliable crepuscular friend, it will remain until September.

Learn more about “Venus, Planet of Paradox.”

Meanwhile, brilliant Jupiter comes closest to us in May, followed by Saturn. Then, in summer, Mars will be the brightest thing in the sky, with all the others still around. More about each conjunction as it approaches. The year of planets is about to get underway.

PS:  Let me share some other amazing things with you for six minutes. Check out: astoundingUniverse.com

and we’ll have some fun.

About This Blog

Welcome to “This Week’s Amazing Sky,” the Almanac’s blog on stargazing and astronomy. Bob Berman, longtime and famous astronomer for The Old Farmer’s Almanac, will help bring alive the wonders of our universe. From the beautiful stars and planets to magical auroras and eclipses, he covers everything under the Sun (and Moon)! Bob, the world’s mostly widely read astronomer, also has a new weekly podcast, Astounding Universe

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