Bright Planets in the East before Dawn – October 2015

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Use Stellarium to check out the sky configuration for your location and time                                                                           

You may have gotten up or will get up before sunrise and discover bright objects rising in the East. These are the planets Venus *very* bright and Jupiter, and below that, ruddy Mars.

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Planet Portrait for Monday morning at 5:40 am local time – Oct 26 2015

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This is a Real Portrait taken by RASC member Michael Watson :

“In this view, brilliant Venus is at the top, just right of centre. Slightly fainter Jupiter is above Venus and a little to the left. Fainter Mars lies 45 degrees to the lower left of Venus, and about three times the distance from Venus to Jupiter. Many stars in the constellation Leo (the Lion) surround the planets, and stars in the constellation Virgo are closer to the horizon.”

This week-end marks the closest appearance of the two planets, a ‘conjunction’ as described by Fred Schaaf, columnist at Sky and Telescope:
Why are Venus and Jupiter so bright and Mars so faint by comparison?

“First, Venus is the closest of the three. On Monday the 26th Venus is 65 million miles from us, compared to Mars’s 208 million miles and Jupiter’s 560 million miles. Venus is also much nearer to the Sun than the other two, so it’s illuminated more intensely. And it’s covered with highly reflective white clouds.

Jupiter is much farther from both Earth and Sun, but it’s vastly larger than Venus, which goes a long way toward making up for its greater distance and weaker illumination.”
– See more at: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/observing-news/venus-jupiter-conjunction-this-weekend-with-mars-too/#sthash.YxfICuYI.dpuf

 

What is the geometry that makes these planets appear so close (e.g. Venus, Mars, Jupiter conjunction)?

As shown below we see the path of the inner planets (above) and the outer planets (smaller scale, below.) Venus, Mars and Jupiter are located in the same direction from Earth and are visible at night because they are not in front of the Sun’s glare.

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For more information on Planets see http://millstonenews.com/2014/04/night-sky-course-planets-earth-and-orbits-around-the-sun.html