Night Sky For January – February 2005
All the planets are basically visible in the skies for the next two months.
Saturn is approaching opposition from the sun and is seen virtually all night and in the morning right up to twilight. It rises near the Eastern sky at or just after sunset and is very prominent in the sky all evening long.
Jupiter is now rising about midnight in the East and is visible well into morning twilight.
Mars rises just a few hours after Jupiter in the East and is still quite dim and distant. Mars won’t be a good telescope object until the late spring when it starts getting very close to the Earth.
Venus is slowly heading into the morning glare of the sun, but can still be seen about an hour before sunrise for much of January and part of February. For the springtime, Venus will be moving to the evening skies sometime in March where it will be visible prominently in the West right up until summertime.
All of these planets can be readily seen with the naked eye as bright looking stars in the sky. Through a telescope, even a small one from Meade or Swift, you can easily see the rings of Saturn (the photo you saw on this page was taken through a small telescope by a home user), the big disk of Jupiter (along with the four brighter moons that go around this planet) and by summertime the disk of Mars will be easily seen at about 100 power in a telescope.
Over the past few decades both the United States and Russia have launched probes to visit all of these planets. It has taken years for these probes to reach their destination and return pictures and information about both the inner planet Venus and the outer planets Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.
Currently there are “Rovers” still working on Mars trying to determine if water has ever existed there and to send back details of the topography of this nearest planet.
Photo of Saturn by John Kagey approximate the view you would see through a small home telescope at around 150 magnification.
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