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Got this in an email...



A delightful display of planets and the moon will occur on New Year's Eve for anyone wishing to step outside and look up just after sunset.


Venus, brighter than all other planets and stars, will dangle just below the thin crescent moon in the southwestern sky. It'll be visible -- impossible to miss, in fact -- just as the sun goes down, assuming skies are cloud-free.


Soon thereafter, Mercury and Jupiter will show up hugging the south-southwestern horizon (just above where the sun went down) and extremely close to each other. Jupiter is very bright and easy to spot; Mercury is faint and harder to see, but it'll be apparent by its location just to the left of Jupiter.


Jupiter and Mercury will set less than an hour after the sun, so timing your viewing just after sunset is crucial. You'll also need a location with a clear view of the western horizon, unobstructed by buildings, trees or mountains.


All the planets, along with the moon and sun, traverse an arc across our sky called the ecliptic, which corresponds to the plane in space that they all roughly share. For this reason, you could draw an imaginary line from the general location of Venus and the moon, down through the other two planets, and the line would point to where the sun went down. This line could also initially help you find Jupiter and Mercury.
One last trick: Venus is so bright you can see it during daylight if you know where to look. Given Venus' proximity to the moon on New Year's Eve, this would be an excellent moment -- just before sunset -- to use the moon to help you find Venus and gain bragging rights for being one of the few people to be able to claim seeing more than one planet during the daytime (Earth being the other one).
Here's a screen capture from Starry Night Pro 6.0 - looking SSW at 5 PM. It may help you locate the planets mentioned should you venture outside for a peek.

BTW, Mercury is very illusive and difficult to see, firstly because it's usually too close to the Sun, and secondly because the nature of its orbit is such that even when it's at maximum distance from the Sun (called "maximum elongation" and never more than 28 degrees from the Sun), it's often very low in the sky. For these reasons, it's often hard to spot even if you know where to look. Occasionally we get lucky when our angle of view is just right and Mercury's maximum elongation coincides with the high point in it's orbit (near maximum declination). As it's always very close to the horizon even under the best of circumstances, clouds, fog, and atmospheric haze add to the difficulty. The legend is that some of history's most famous astronomers like Copernicus never managed to see it. :)


 

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Posted By Dwight Ennis on 12/31/2008 12:55 PM
Got this in an email...



Venus, brighter than all other planets and stars, will dangle just below the thin crescent moon in the southwestern sky. It'll be visible -- impossible to miss, in fact -- just as the sun goes down, assuming skies are cloud-free.


Soon thereafter, Mercury and Jupiter will show up hugging the south-southwestern horizon (just above where the sun went down) and extremely close to each other. Jupiter is very bright and easy to spot; Mercury is faint and harder to see, but it'll be apparent by its location just to the left of Jupiter.










Can you please move them to the southeast? My view to the west is obscured by the hills.

Thanks
 

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I saw it I saw it. I went out and there is was just like you said.

Out where I live no one leaves thier MV lamps on all night. There are no street light. ( Barly a street) There is no Light Polutions and the sky is fully visable.

What a site to see.
 
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