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The Best of the Bay ~ Every Week Since 1993
Volume 16, Issue 2 - January 10 - January 16, 2008

Our Nighttime Planetarium

Now showing overhead

With Jupiter returning to pre-dawn skies and Mercury low in the early evening, all five naked-eye planets are visible this week, with the moon guiding you to Uranus.

You’ll need binoculars to span the 1.85 billion miles between us and Uranus, the gaseous giant almost five times larger than Earth. Head out after sunset at 5:05 Saturday evening, and look for the crescent moon high in the southwest. Search two degrees below the moon’s lower point for the small but steady blue-green light of Uranus.

Sunset also reveals the bright, steady light of Mercury hugging the southwest horizon. On the evening of the 10th, look for the waxing crescent moon about 10 degrees above Mercury. The fleet planet sets before 6:30, although it climbs higher and sets a little later over the next two weeks.

Mars, though dimming as Earth’s faster orbit carries it away, reigns through the night, shining a bright orange and equalling any star. It is high in the east at nightfall and directly overhead at 10pm, finally setting in the northwest just before 6am.

Around 9pm, Saturn rises in the east with the constellation Leo. Less than 10 degrees away blinks the lion’s heart, the red-giant Regulus. By 3am, both are high in the south, then as dawn brightens the sky, the two disappear in the west-southwest.

Venus rises in the southeast at 5am and climbs about 10 degrees above the horizon by sunrise, around 7:25. The morning star shines so bright it remains visible for an hour after daybreak.

Jupiter emerges from the sun’s glare less than an hour before sunrise. Scan the southeast horizon with binoculars at 6:30 to see how early you can spot it. While still closely pursued by the sun, the giant planet easily outshines any star.


Illustration: © Copyright 1925 M.C. Escher/Cordon Art-Baarn-Holland; Graphics: © Copyright 2007 Pacific Publishers. Reprinted by permission from the Tidelog graphic almanac. Bound copies of the annual Tidelog for Chesapeake Bay are $14.95 ppd. from Pacific Publishers, Box 480, Bolinas, CA 94924. Phone 415-868-2909. Weather affects tides. This information is believed to be reliable but no guarantee of accuracy is made by Bay Weekly or Pacific Publishers. The actual layout of Tidelog differs from that used in Bay Weekly. Tidelog graphics are repositioned to reflect Bay Weekly’s distribution cycle.Tides are based on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and are positioned to coincide with high and low tides of Tidelog.

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