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The Urban Astronomer

The Dance of the Planets - a spectacular celestial alignment

23 May 2013, 05:45 UTC
The Dance of the Planets - a spectacular celestial alignment
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This week is the culmination of a spectacular celestial alignment, creating a rare and beautiful triangle of three planets on Sunday 26th. The planets will be low in the west after sunset, and as the glare of the sunset fades, the three bright dots of light will emerge from that glare, and if you have a good western view, you'll see them for a short window of time before they set.The Triangle of PlanetsJupiter has been dominating the night sky for months, but each successive night has brought it closer to the time when it slips 'behind' the Sun, from our vantage point, and is shielded from our view. This happens to all of the outer planets throughout the course of a year or two. But by cosmic coincidence, Mercury and Venus are rapidly rising into the sunset sky, as their orbits bring them out of the glare from being 'behind' the Sun, and they quickly pop up into the evening sky. This week, they appear to move higher and higher in the sky just as Jupiter is 'falling' and they cross over in a lovely pattern.To see this spectacle, head out any evening and look west. The configuration will ...

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