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Astro Bob

Farewell Parting Of The Evening Planets

6 Dec 2019, 21:11 UTC
Farewell Parting Of The Evening Planets
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Watch the interplanetary traffic in the southwestern sky during evening twilight in the coming week. This animation shows the planets’ positions from Dec. 5 through Dec. 12. Stellarium
Since late last month, Venus has been playing tag with the evening planets at dusk, providing lots of pretty viewing and photographic opportunities. I hate to break the news, but that’s about to end. Venus is now nudging toward Saturn and will pass it in conjunction on Dec. 10-11. Jupiter’s very low in twilight and will soon depart the evening sky, followed by Saturn several weeks later. By Christmas Venus will stand alone in the western sky, the sole bright planet at dusk.
Such is the way of the solar system. Watch the animation, which spans from Dec. 5-12, and you’ll see two things happening. Venus moving up and away from the sun and Jupiter and Saturn moving toward it. As we discussed in an earlier blog, what’s really happening is that Venus’s apparent distance from the sun is increasing from our perspective here on Earth. At the same time, Earth’s orbital motion around the sun makes the stars and planets slowly drift westward over time in the amount of about 1° ...

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