25 February 2015

Neptune Conjunction

Neptune will be in Conjunction with Sun on February 26th. This means that Sun and Neptune will be close to each other.  At this point, the planet will be farthest from earth and the distance between earth and Neptune will be 463,75,33,991 km that is 31 times the distance between earth and Sun.
We will  have to wait until last part of March to see the planet in the morning skies when it rises one hour before sunrise. A good pair of binoculars or a small telescope is good enough to spot the planet Neptune.
Here are star charts to find the planet Neptune towards end of March.

23 February 2015

Mercury Greatest Elongation

Mercury will reach greatest elongation on the morning of February 24th with maximum separation of 27 degrees from Sun as measured from earth. Mercury is difficult planet to spot and observe, as it stays very close to Sun most of the time. Best times are near elongation for spotting and observing the planet. This is because the angular separation between Sun and the planet Mercury will be large and we can see the planet away from Sun’s glare.  

Since it will be low in the horizon, just 27 degrees, better search for a place, where there is clear view of the eastern horizon not obstructed by buildings or trees. Early morning 6am will be good time to spot the planet as the planet would have reached an altitude of 14degrees.

After elongation, the planet will start getting closer to Sun, meaning the angular separation between the planet and Sun keeps decreasing and towards end of March the planet will be lost in Sun’s glare again.

21 February 2015

Venus and Mars Conjunction

In the evening twilight after sunset, we find Venus shining bright in the western sky. These days we find a red star very close to Venus, in fact this is not a star but red planet Mars. On 22nd of February these two planets come closest to each other, at just below half a degree. Our moon measures half a degree in the sky.

If we continue observing these planets for few days more, we can see that Venus is moving up in the sky and Mars is getting closer to Sun.
Hope you all get a chance to see this during the weekend.