Transit Mercury TRACE 2003 (1)

Watch Mercury Skip Across The Sun On May 9

On Monday May 9th, we have a rare opportunity to see the solar system’s innermost planet pass directly in front of the sun. Maybe you saw one or both Venus transits back in 2004 and 2012. All you needed then was a handheld solar filter to that planet’s perfectly black, perfectly circular self silhouetted against the…
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Mercury April 2016FEA

Mercury Makes Best Appearance Of The Year At Dusk

Evening twilight needs a planet. The skyline in that direction’s been mighty bare lately. Venus departed long ago, and Mercury’s been missing for months. That’s about to change as Mercury gallops back to the western sky this week. Tonight, it’s about 3 fingers high 30-40 minutes after sunset tonight. Watch for the planet to climb steadily…
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5 planets l_r Saturn Mars JupiterFEA

5-Planets-In-A-Row Only Gets Better

I can finally come up for air! Thanks for your patience. Let’s get right into it. Have you been out to look at the morning planets and moon? I’m still getting a lot of questions about whether they’re still out there. Indeed they are! I finally got a chance to check out all the excitement…
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View facing south tomorrow Saturday morning Jan. 23 as seen from Minneapolis, Minn. and other locations in the northern half of the U.S. All the planets lie along the ecliptic, the plane of Earth's orbit. Stellarium

See All Five Planets Line Up At Dawn!

To listen to the TV news you’d think the well-publicized planetary lineup is pretty much over. The good news is that this visual treat has just begun. Jupiter, Venus and Mars have been trolling the morning sky for months. A few weeks ago, they were joined by Saturn, emerging low in the southeastern sky at…
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The apparent motion of the sun around the sky is really a reflection of Earth’s yearly cycle around the sun. The seesaw-like up-and-down movement of the sun from season to season is caused by Earth’s titled axis and our planet’s changing orientation to the sun during the year. Credit: Thomas G. Andrews / NOAA

Perihelion Paradox? Closer Sun, Colder Days

Yesterday, while preparing dinner, Earth reached its closest point to the sun for the year. This annual milestone, called perihelion, from the Greek ‘peri’ (close) and ‘helios’ (sun), happens paradoxically every January. Shouldn’t it be warmer if we’re closer to the sun? Earth’s distance from the sun varies over the course of a year because we…
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