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Rise and Shine to see Planets

by / Tuesday, 24 May 2011 / Published in Blog - Space Log

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It’s almost summer and you might already be out of school for the year. Maybe you are home-schooled and have a different schedule. No matter what you’re doing these days, here’s a great reason NOT to sleep in during the month of May. All through May, in the wee hours of the morning it is possible to see 4 planets in the eastern sky.

Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter are visible close together in the sky in a series of conjunctions. Each day’s view is a little bit different and scientists have said for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it might be a bit harder to see the planets. This is because of the angle of orientation at the eastern horizon.

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Scientists say the moon and planets should rise into view during late twilight and will stay low to the east-northeast horizon by the time the sun comes up. If you want to see them, make sure you have clear visibility of the sky from a high vantage point, without trees or buildings in the way.

Venus and Jupiter are the planets most likely to be seen with the unaided eye. Mercury and Mars might require binoculars if you have them. Keep your fingers crossed for cloudless skies, as clouds will only make it more difficult to see these planets. Let us know if you set your alarm clock for early and check it out. We’re going to!

{image via NASA Jet Propulsion Lab}

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