Planet Close Encounters
Over the course of a year there are some opportune moments to see the stars, when planets appear close to one another in the night sky.
These are great times to turn out the lights, turn off the TV and check out the stars.
Venus and Mercury are the two planets that will appear close together on the evening of 11th of January 2015. Find a good clear horizon to the west without any buildings or trees blocking your view.
About 30 to 45 minutes after the Sun sets, and roughly above the same spot, you will be able to see a very bright star-like object, this is Venus. Another of our Solar System’s inner planets will appear right below Venus, that’s Mercury! It’s definitely not as bright as Venus but it will be visible. A pair of binoculars may help you to distinguish the two planets from each other.
Mercury is the smallest of the planets in our Solar System, it is only a bit bigger than our Moon.
It’s the closest planet to the Sun and takes 59 Earth days to spin once on its axis. That means the length of one day on Mercury is equal to 59 Earth days! That’s one very long night!
For more stargazing tips visit the Stargazers Club WA.
Happy stargazing in 2015,
Carol Redford (aka “Galaxy Girl”)
Image above: Artist impression of spacecraft Messenger, currently in orbit around Mercury (credit: NASA)
Carol Redford (aka “Galaxy Girl”) is an accidental stargazer! Carol has a Bachelor of Arts and a post graduate degree in business marketing. After a decade of international travel and work, she returned to regional WA in 1999 and purchased the local Gingin Observatory business. Along with a business partner, she ran the Observatory for five years before selling it in 2012. Carol’s passion for astronomy science communication continues with Stargazers Club WA and she is currently the Chair of WA’s astronomy and space science community, Astronomy WA.