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The Urban Astronomer

The Five Visible Planets

17 Jul 2013, 03:50 UTC
The Five Visible Planets
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As an amateur astronomer and public speaker, I find the five visible planets fascinating. These 'wanderersThe Solar System' are beautiful to watch with the naked eye, and are interesting in a telescope as well, even in a big city. Consequently, I am a close watcher of the changing motions and of these bodies, and I point them out often to groups at star parties. The planets all follow the band of the Zodiac across the sky, of course, because they move along the ecliptic, the projection of the orbits of all of the Solar System planets across the sky. And as such, their motion is interesting to watch, whether they are the inner planets of Venus and Mercury with their unusual twilight appearances, or the outer planets of Mars and Jupiter and Saturn, enjoying long seasons in the limelight of the night sky. We just had some interesting patterns of planets and stars, and of course can always enjoy those by knowing where to look for the five visible planets. Earth Sky has a fine article on these planets for July.

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