21 August 2012

Planet/Star Trio Fades into the Sunset

The "Trio" fading into the sunset
I've enjoyed watching the changing view of the evening sky over the past months, in particular as the pair of Saturn and Spica have become a trio with Mars. Saturn and Spica straddle the ecliptic and Mars has raced from its location far to the west of the pair in Spring, to a near-split of the two last week, and now as the trio fades into the sunset, Mars is continuing to glide eastward, this week being joined by a crescent Moon.

I've been pointing out this dynamic at star parties for the past few months, as it vividly illustrates the motion of planets in our Solar System, and it also highlights the differences in perceived speed of the outer planets, with Mars circling the Sun every 2 earth-years, and Saturn taking nearly 30 earth-years to accomplish the same.

Image courtesy Sky & Telescope.

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