As seen from Earth, the Sun appears to move around the Earth in a plane that is inclined 23.5 degrees to the Earth’s celestial equator, the plane formed by projecting the terrestrial equator into space. This plane is called the ecliptic and it also defines the plane in which, with some variations, all the planets in the solar system orbit the Sun. This is one piece of evidence for planetary formation starting from a disk of dust and gas orbiting around the Sun.

Venus, Mars, and a thin crescent Moon will create a stunning sight in our early evening sky on February 20.  If skies are clear, find an open spot with an unobstructed horizon and look to the west between 6:15 and 7:00 p.m.   At first you may see brilliant Venus next to a thin, crescent Moon.  As twilight fades, fainter Mars will appear between Venus and the Moon.  Use binoculars for a truly amazing view!        

Planetary Conjunctions

Late August will be a great time for planet watching, in the morning and the evening. If you are up early on Monday, August 18, you will be rewarded by a spectacular pre-dawn sight.