The Dance of the Planets is here yet again, with a conjunction of the planets Venus, Mars, Uranus, and the crescent Moon, all visible together tonight in the evening sky.
Venus and the Moon will of course be the brightest of these, but the reddish body of Mars should be fairly visible as well, of a similar magnitude to that of other bright ‘stars’. Uranus can sometimes be seen as a very dim ‘star’ with the naked eye, but use of binoculars will make it far easier to spot the distant planet.
This conjunction will be visible in the western portion of the late evening sky (after sunset will be when it’s easiest to see these celestial bodies, of course). At the same time as this conjunction in the western sky, the eastern sky will be seeing the rise of the fairly bright ‘star’ Jupiter.
Venus is moving steadily higher in the sky after sunset during the months of February and March, passing close to the planet Mars (closer than the diameter of the Moon as seen from the Earth), before passing very close to the planet Uranus in early March.
This dance of the planets is a relatively rare occurrence, and the planets of Venus and Mars actually haven’t appeared as close together in the sky (as they will tonight and tomorrow) since all the way back in 2008.
Those getting excited should of course remember that cloudy weather will mean that you can’t see anything, so don’t get too excited just yet. That said, the next couple of days (weeks really) should still offer interesting views as well — so if the weather isn’t great tonight, the next couple of days are worth a shot as well.
(Those interested in checking out some of the other major celestial events of the year should see: Meteor Showers 2015, Dates and Times, Lyrids, Perseids, Leonids, Orionids, Draconids, Geminids, Etc)
Image Credit: Observatory via Wiki CC