Planets Align Tonight: Venus, Jupiter, Mercury, Mars & Moon To Appear

The brightest planets are lining up in the sky tonight.

Note to sky watchers: Put on your coats. What you’re about to read might make you feel an uncontrollable urge to dash outside.

The brightest planets in the solar system are lining up in the evening sky, and you can see the formation—some of it at least—tonight. 

The planets Venus and Jupiter dominate the western evening sky at sunset on Sunday, with the crescent moon hovering nearby. The planet Mercury joins the cosmic trio briefly just after sunset before slipping below the horizon, according to Tariq Malik of space.com

The planet Mars is also making its own appearance in the evening sky, but rises in the east a few hours after sunset in its own solo celestial show.

The sky maps of Jupiter, Venus and the moon here show how the bright objects, as well as Mars later, will appear in the night sky. 

"This is a great weekend to watch the sun go down. Venus, Jupiter and the slender crescent moon are lining up in the western sky, forming a bright triangle in the evening twilight," astronomer Tony Phillips of the skywatching website Spaceweather.com wrote in an alert. "These three objects are so bright, they shine through thin clouds and even city lights." [Skywatcher Photos: Jupiter, Venus & the Moon]

The Moon, Venus and Jupiter are the brightest objects in the night sky; together they can shine through urban lights, fog, and even some clouds.

After hopping from Venus to Jupiter in late February, the Moon exits stage left, but the show is far from over.

In March, Venus and Jupiter continue their relentless convergence until, on March 12 and 13, the duo lie only three degrees apart—a spectacular double beacon in the sunset sky (sky map). 

There’s something mesmerizing about stars and planets bunched together in this way—and, no, you’re not imagining things when it happens to you.  The phenomenon is based on the anatomy of the human eye.

Dr. Stuart Hiroyasu of Bishop, California: "There's a lens in front to focus the light, and a photo-array behind the lens to capture the image. The photo-array in your eye is called the retina. It's made of rods and cones, the organic equivalent of electronic pixels."

There’s a tiny patch of tissue near the center of the retina where cones are extra-densely packed. This is called “the fovea.”

"Whatever you see with the fovea, you see in high-definition," Hiroyasu says. The fovea is critical to reading, driving, watching television. The fovea has the brain's attention.

The field of view of the fovea is only about five degrees wide. Most nights in March, Venus and Jupiter will fit within that narrow cone.  And when they do—presto!  It’s spellbinding astronomy.

Standing outdoors, mesmerized by planets aligned in a late winter sunset, you might just forget how cold you feel.  Bring a coat anyway….

--Tony Phillips, NASA

Be sure to follow Northfield Patch on Twitter, "Like" us on Facebook, and sign up for our newsletter, which sends you updates about stories, breaking news, announcements, events and blogs on our site.

francisca February 29, 2012 at 01:00 PM
I I'm shocked and I think its time for everyone to get in touch with every. Loved object, family children, friends,to spend your time with them.life's to short and having dreams of the what's. Going on now is a wondering. ,and confusing feeling. That we ran out of time here. Even if it means going to jail to just hold both of my kids that's all I want is be with them ...
Miranda February 29, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Please don't worry, if you trust in God know that the bible says no man knows the day nor the hour, he gives us just enough information to excel in our intellect, but HE is the one who will determine when we all leave. Does that mean go on living as you do, no, take this time to reconnect to loved ones just because you're supposed to anyway. I hope your fears supside and you become stronger in your faith in God
CARRA March 01, 2012 at 07:33 PM
tommy December 10, 2012 at 05:23 PM
As the goodbook says get on the side of the road and tell god here I am do as u will.god said I will never forsak u belive in me and have internal life. Not just here but at the right hand of god.the book dosent say the earth will end. Just not as we know it.its time for trials and treblation. But if u live for god. I know all the bad is going on here on earth but I still love all here.and hope god forgives all.
tommy December 10, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Prepper start diding in its not long now


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something