10 November 2016

Three Planets in the Sunset Sky

Three planets are visible in the west just after sunset. Saturn is on a gradual fade into twilight and will disappear from view later this month, following the path of the zodiac constellation Sagittarius and the center of the Milky Way as the Earth's steady motion around the Sun carries us from the summer and fall constellations into the winter skies.

Mars, Venus, Saturn
Venus is the brightest object in the west for the coming months, maintaining its position as a bright beacon above the horizon for an hour or two after sunset. Both Venus and Mars are not 'pulled' into the western horizon in the same way as Saturn because they are much closer to the Earth and more nimble, moving steadily east in their orbits and keeping pace with the Earth's own motion. For that reason they remain in the evening sky after sunset with Venus eventually dropping out of sight late this winter and Mars holding its western location until nearly summer.

To see any of this you will need a clear and unobstructed western horizon. A pair of binoculars will enhance the view. And clear skies!

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