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. It gives its best appearance of the year in early June, as it rises up to lower right of Venus.
Venus reappears as evening star in the Spring, rising higher through first half of 2015. At the end of June she greets Jupiter coming form the East in a spectacular conjunction on June 30. Watch them draw closer. The two will have another spectacular meeting in the morning sky of Oct 25, this time accompanied by Mars
Mars is now in the morning sky through the summer.
Jupiter is high overhead in the Spring, the brightest object along with Venus, which it rapidly glides towards through May and June. See Venus above.
Saturn reappears in the Summer, following Jupiter across the sky through the Autumn.
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.