The Dance So Far — the last 25 years
Total Solar Eclipse of 1999
Looking into the Heart of Our Galaxy
How Astronomy Begat Astrology
I'm a naked eye astronomer, as were all astronomers before the invention of the telescope, four centuries ago. I love to watch the sky at night, observing the slow dance of the planets amongst the stars.
Today we get only a dim glimpse of what earlier peoples must have seen in skies free from dust pollution and, in urban areas, from the light pollution that bleaches out all but the moon and brightest stars.
Here are some things you can see in the evening sky, after sunset, as the never-repeating, never-ending, cosmic dance continues.
Mercury is usually hard to see because its stays close to the sun. It orbits the sun once every 88 days, and so alternates between evening sky and morning sky approximately every 6 weeks. from 2nd week of Oct thru Nov, it rises in the morning sky to greet the triple conjunction of Venus-Mars-Jupiter .
Venus reappears as a morning star, through the Fall, converging with Mars and Jupiter for a magnificent trio in October, briefly joined by Mercury. Jupiter and Venus will be closest Oct 25-26.
Mars is in the morning sky joining Venus and Jupiter in October.
Jupiter is also in the morning sky, with Venus and Jupiter - see above.
Saturn is the only planet in the evening sky, at the head of Scorpio, moving down into the sunset in October.
Sky at a glance for current week.
NASA Solar System Simulator for a view of the planets and their moons at any time, and almost any angle.
Animated orrery Beautiful bird's view of solar system.
Quadrantids. Maximum at January 3-4
The twelve Zodiacal constellations (Taurus, Pisces, Gemini, etc.) also lie on the ecliptic -- they are the constellations the planets pass through.