As an amateur astronomer and public speaker, I find the five visible planets fascinating. These 'wanderers
The Solar System
' are beautiful to watch with the naked eye, and are interesting in a telescope as well, even in a big city. Consequently, I am a close watcher of the changing motions and of these bodies, and I point them out often to groups at star parties. The planets all follow the band of the Zodiac across the sky, of course, because they move along the ecliptic, the projection of the orbits of all of the Solar System planets across the sky. And as such, their motion is interesting to watch, whether they are the inner planets of Venus and Mercury with their unusual twilight appearances, or the outer planets of Mars and Jupiter and Saturn, enjoying long seasons in the limelight of the night sky.
We just had some interesting patterns of planets and stars, and of course can always enjoy those by knowing where to look for the five visible planets. Earth Sky has a fine article on these planets for July.
In 2005 I began writing a column for the San Francisco Waldorf School newsletter called "The Urban Astronomer." I started this blog in 2007 as a place to archive my articles and to offer additional insights on the night sky - even if you live in a big city. In 2008 I became an occasional guest on the KFOG Morning Show, and more recently on KALW and KGO. Archived shows are posted on the blog. I conduct private star parties for special events and corporate events. Contact me for details.