Three of the planets appear at dusk this weekend when Jupiter and Saturn are still shivering together at a party post last month. A rare great pairing, Just above the western horizon to the southwest by the more flying planet Mercury. The planetary triad is a rare sight that can be seen with the naked eye right after sunset for the next several days, although Saturday evening may be the best opportunity to see the three worlds clumped together.
Astronomy Journal Reports indicate that the planets will all be visible at about 2.3 degrees across that evening (roughly the width of a pinkie and ring finger together when they are pulled away from your body at arm’s length). Mercury will be the lowest of the three in the sky, Jupiter will be the brightest and Saturn will be the darkest.
Binoculars may help you get a better view, while an inexpensive backyard telescope could provide an opportunity to glimpse some of Jupiter’s larger moons. This might be a good thing to experiment when Mercury and Saturn are disappearing below the horizon and the atmosphere is a little darker.
To make sure the entire trio is captured, the key is to get out right after sunset because Mercury and Saturn will rapidly descend below the horizon within an hour. Although the planets may be the earliest Saturday, they will continue to congregate as you move around for the next several nights, so you have some shots to capture them all like a cosmic Pokemon game.
As always, if the hobbyist astrophotographer among you has taken any cool photos of the celestial gathering please share with me on Twitter Embed a Tweet.
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