T5P (Summer, 2009)

Posted July 14, 2009 by User 1

Caglow, for the first time ever, presents "The 5 Planets," a quarterly report of the positions of the planets and viewing conditions. There are also a few extras in this edition which have been added to be part of the release. Have fun with the sky!

-Mars growing as it nears opposition
-Jupiter reaches a maximum of 49" in August
-Saturn, opposite the sun, presents its rings edge on in September

The planet is currently at a minimum on the far side of the sun at this point. It will gradually pull away to reach a maximum in the month of August before heading back in to inferior conjunction in mid-September. Expect about 9" of diameter in late-August; slightly less favorable than last time.

Venus is on its journey ever closer to the sun once more dropping under 30 degrees in September. Angular diameter for this period is on a decline dropping from 17" in July (now) down to about 12" in September. The disk should still look like a disk in medium-sized telescopes.

The Red Planet is on a slow but steady incline in terms of angular diameter. Right now (mid-July), it appears as a 5" disk which will grow to about 7" in late-September as it nears opposition. The 2010 opposition should be the worst opposition of the series with Mars at twice the distance it was 2003.

During these months, Jupiter will appear to be the largest and brightest planet visible on Earth. It will top out at an impressive 49" in August before continuing on its way and declining. Jupiter is passing through the constellation of Capricornus during this time. It recently passed conjunction (July 9) with Neptune, the dimmest and smallest planet as seen from Earth, but will return to conjunction December.

While Jupiter reaches a maximum in August, Saturn will reach a minimum in September behind the sun. Sometime around this period, the rings should appear edge on, invisible. However, the planet itself will be hidden from us by the glare of the sun. Nonetheless, it should be interesting as it won't be another 13 years until this happens again.

Bright Comet(s)
C/2008 Q3 Garradd is currently the brightest comet in the sky at about magnitude 7. It will be passing through the constellation of Virgo in this 3-month period.


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