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04/08/2020 – Ephemeris – Morning planets are not practicing social distancing

April 8, 2020 Comments off

Note:  It seems the title is appropriate to our current predicament even though I hadn’t thought about it when I wrote and recorded the radio script that follows last Sunday.

This is Ephemeris for Wednesday, April 8th. Today the Sun will be up for 13 hours and 9 minutes, setting at 8:19, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:08. The Moon, 1 day past full, will rise at 9:16 this evening.

Let’s look at the naked-eye planets for this week. Venus is our evening star shining brightly in the west above the Pleiades. It will set at 12:33 a.m. The rest of the planet action is in the morning sky where there are three planets nearly evenly spread out in the southeast. Bright Jupiter will rise first at 3:46 a.m. Followed by Saturn at 4:05 a.m. Mars, left and below Saturn will rise at 4:27 a.m. It’s now as bright as a first magnitude star because it’s down to 130 million miles (209 million km) away, as the Earth slowly overtakes it at the rate of about 5 million miles (8 million km) a week. It’s brighter than the star Antares in the southwest. Mars will be closest to us in October, which makes a good time to launch spacecraft to it few months before then.

The event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Venus in the evening

Venus in the evening with the setting winter stars including those in Orion and Taurus at 10 p.m. April 8, 2020. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

The Moon as it might be seen in binoculars at 10 p.m. April 8, 2020. Created using Stellarium.

The morning planets and the southern summer stars in the moonlight at 6 a.m. April 9, 2020. The bright star on the right is Antares. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

Telescopic planets

The planets as seen in a telescope with the same magnification. Venus in the evening and Jupiter and Saturn in the morning on the night of April 8/9, 2020. Apparent diameters: Venus, 28.21″; Jupiter, 38.00″; Saturn, 16.34″, rings, 38.07″. Mars at 6.72″ won’t be added until it reaches 10″. The ” symbol means seconds of arc (1/3600th of a degree.) Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Planets and the Moon on a single night

Planets and the Moon at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on April 8, 2020. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 9th. The planet traffic jam in the morning sky unfortunately overlays planets and labels. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.