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GrapesOfWrath
2002-Jan-25, 01:58 PM
A comment in this thread (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?topic=478&forum=2&10) suggested an astronomy activity for kids.

Mars has been visible in the skies for a few months now, and while it plays "catch up," it will hang in the evening sky over the next few months. Saturn is now over 60 arcdegrees away, much higher in the skies. Both are bright enough to be easily seen, even in suburban skies, although Saturn is a magnitude brighter.

Kids can watch the movement of the planets each evening. Over the next four months, Saturn gradually moves down to join Mars. They are closest on around May 4--when they are joined by Venus and Mercury! Jupiter is not far behind. It will be a great way to get kids looking up and interested in the skies.

Kaptain K
2002-Jan-25, 04:24 PM
Actually, both are moving eastward with respect to the stars. Mars is moving faster than Saturn, due to its smaller orbit. Both are moving slower than the Sun (actually the Earth). So, in reference to the western horizon at sunset, they both appear to be moving toward the Sun (Saturn more quickly than Mars).

GrapesOfWrath
2002-Jan-25, 04:43 PM
On 2002-01-25 11:24, Kaptain K wrote:
So, in reference to the western horizon at sunset, they both appear to be moving toward the Sun (Saturn more quickly than Mars).
And Mars very slowly, which is why it seems to be in nearly the same place each evening after sunset, whereas Saturn gets much lower in the sky.

GrapesOfWrath
2002-Mar-12, 12:39 PM
I was reminded of this old thread when I read BA's book Bad Astronomy. In it, he talks about the planetary alignment of May, 2000, which was predicted to cause planetary calamity. He points out (p.128) that it wasn't that great of an alignment anyway, and the Sun obscured the view. On p.132 he says we'll have to wait until September of 2040 for the next good alignment.

However, the one I described above, in early May of this year, is pretty good. Only Jupiter is farther away than in the 2040 alignment, and it's not far. Also, the alignment is even more visible--Mercury sets much later.

Maybe we'll experience a rash of UFO sightings.