- Education and Science
Where to Find the Planets of Our Solar System
“Now my own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose but queerer than we can suppose” – J.B.S Haldane
The universe is a vast place; the number of stars and planets go beyond the comprehension of our mind. We can’t understand it; we can’t even begin to try. What we can do, however, is look closer to home. We can let our minds become encompassed with the imagination of the alien worlds that are right on our doorstep, our solar system.
One would think its common knowledge – where the planets are in respect to the sky, and when they should appear. Something like another world so close to home should invigorate an entire planet; it should, but in reality, it doesn’t. Many people go throughout their lives without even the slightest inkling of the other planets that make up our universal community. It’s not that they just don’t care, it’s just they don’t when and where to look.
In actuality once you know where to look, and what time of day to do your searching, the small dot that is a planet of our solar system is not very hard to find.
Here is a list of the eight planets, on where to find them, and when. Happy star gazing!
- · The east horizon just before sunrise.
- · The west horizon just before sunset.
- · Each spring the planets orbit come in perpendicular contact with earth. Therefore best visibility time is early spring.
Venus: Closest planet to earth, and therefore the brightest planet to appear in our night sky.
- · The south-western horizon just after sunset. It should be visible on a clear night for three or four hours. Will be the brightest light in the night sky.
- · Every one and a half years the orbits match up perfectly; or every 584 days. Check local news for the next arrival of Venus.
Mars: The red planet full with dust and mountains and canyons. It is about half the size of the earth and double the size of the moon.
- · Anywhere in the night sky. During the right time of the year will appear to have a soft red ‘glow’. Position your telescope to it and prepare to marvel at some of its earth-like qualities.
- · Every 26 months earth overtakes mars orbit – something called opposition – and allows Mars to shine brightly in our night sky.
Jupiter: The largest of the gas giants; it has a swirling mixture of hydrogen and nitrogen. Four moons orbit Jupiter, and, for many, these are of greater interests than the planet itself (Avatar, anyone?)
- · Depends on the year and month. Jupiter has a much, much larger orbit than Earth, and therefore every year it has a different position in the night sky. For example, currently Jupiter is hiding out behind the sun and hasn’t been visible in the night sky for nearly a year.
- · Depends on the orbit with relation to earth. Usually starts in the western horizon and moves upward.
Saturn: Saturn is the superstar of the night, the one planet that is a must see for any astronomy enthusiasts. Beautiful circular rings surround the planet providing for a stunning view through a telescopic lens.
- · Like Jupiter its position in the night sky will vary.
- · Early in the night is when Saturn has its best visibility.