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. Its orbits the sun once every 88 days, and so alternates between evening sky and morning sky approximately every 6 weeks. It will be briefly visible in first week of June, low in WNW.
Venus appears as morning star through the Spring and Summer of 2014, re-emerging as evening star in the Autumn
Mars is high in the sky at dusk, moving West through the summer. Saturn catches up with it in late August and the two fade together into the sunset in September.
Jupiter is bright in the West, disappearing into the twilight in late July.
Saturn is in the East in early summer, gliding across the sky through the summer, and closing in on Mars, which it will pass in late August.
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.