by William J. Bechaver
Last week, we spent a couple of evenings watching the planets congregate in the evening sky.
Jupiter and Venus have now exchanged positions, with Jupiter lower in the sky, and brilliant Venus climbing ever higher night by night.
This week, the crescent Moon will join the party, adding extra intrigue to the beautiful spectacle.
As the Moon was below the gathering of planets on Wednesday evening, it has now moved up amongst them for Thursday.
Go out just after sunset on Thanksgiving evening, Thursday 28 November. Look to the west. Now, low on the horizon, you can see bright Jupiter. Up and to the left, is more brilliant Venus. Above the beautiful pair is the crescent Moon, now situated amongst the planetary dance.
Further up to the left, you will see even fainter Saturn.
The Sun will be down, with the sky darkening nicely by 5 o’clock that evening. Get out there shortly after, for Jupiter will be gone about an hour later, with Venus setting about fifteen minutes after that. Twenty minutes later, the Moon will set, followed by Saturn less than an hour later.
So, get out there quickly, shortly after sunset on Thanksgiving evening to witness the dance of the planets and moon. The entire thing will be gone just two-and-a-half hours after sundown.
The following night, Friday 29 November, the Moon will have climbed a bit higher, to join Saturn. The two will be a mere one degree apart just after sundown. Venus will be a little higher, further from descending Jupiter, below the beautiful pair.
Remember to continue to watch during the coming weeks, as Venus climbs higher, and Saturn continues to descend, until the two come together on the tenth next month, for an early holiday treat.
With a promising holiday season, get out there to watch the party of the year, as the moon becomes the guest of honor at the dance of the planets.
Thanks for all the positive feedback about our featured columns, and your continued interest in astronomy. If you have any questions or article requests, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow us on Twitter @ColoSpacEScapE for updates and additional viewing opportunities.
Astronomical Times of naked-eye objects for this weekend.
Sun Set = 4:41 p.m.
2 minutes earlier than last week
Jupiter Set = 6:04 p.m.
21 minutes earlier than last week
Venus Set = 6:28 p.m.
11 minutes later than last week
Saturn Set = 7:28 p.m.
24 minutes earlier than last week
Moon Set = 8:35 p.m.
5 hours 22 minutes later than last week
Mars Rise = 4:22 a.m.
4 minutes earlier than last week
Mercury Rise = 5:15 a.m.
6 minutes later than last week
Sun Rise = 6:55 a.m.
7 minutes later than last week
First Quarter Moon occurs on Tuesday, December 3rd, at 11:58 p.m.
Note: Times are local Mountain Time. Actual sundown is about ten minutes earlier than calculated sunset. Along the front range, differing times may vary depending on your distance from the mountains.
• · William J. Bechaver is the director of SPACE • Spanish Peaks Amateur Cosmos Enthusiasts, the premier Astronomical Society for Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico.
The planets and their relative positions in the solar system for this weekend.
Planets and distances are not to scale.