Planets

In Our Skies

In Our Skies

About once a year, Earth passes between the Sun and Neptune. This event is called an opposition because Neptune is on the opposite side of Earth from the Sun, rising around sunset and setting around...

In Our Skies, July 2022: Planets

In Our Skies, July 2022: Planets

Moon. Photo © Shaphan Shank. This month, nearly all the bright planets are strung across the early morning sky. Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are all easy to find, thanks to their brilliance....

In Our Skies, March 2022: Planetary Conjunctions

In Our Skies, March 2022: Planetary Conjunctions

Where I live in Virginia, March brings the signs of a new season. The days are slowly warming, and the evenings, which were quiet all winter, are now enlivened by the calls of spring peepers and...

In Our Skies, September 2021, Viewing Neptune

In Our Skies, September 2021, Viewing Neptune

Just after sunset the night of September 14, the planet Mercury will be visible in the western sky just above the horizon. While it is only 26.8° from the Sun and, therefore, close to the horizon,...

In Our Skies, July 2021, Venus and Mars Conjunction

In Our Skies, July 2021, Venus and Mars Conjunction

Throughout July, Venus and Mars will be visible low in the west just after sunset. The planets will start and end the month a little distance from each other, but on the evening of July 12, they...

Sequoias, Sentinel, and Stars

Sequoias, Sentinel, and Stars

A Mariposa Grove shuttle bus unhurriedly wound its way up the wooded hillside from Yosemite National Park’s southern gate to the famed Mariposa Grove. It paused for a minute to let us and at least...

The Great Conjunction: Saturn and Jupiter

The Great Conjunction: Saturn and Jupiter

Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. Photo © Morris Yoder. Jupiter and Saturn appear to pass each other in the sky about once every twenty years. When this happens, astronomers call it a great...