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Planet observing though 2020 January 24, 2011

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy.
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The other day, I compiled a list of all the retorgrades of the 5 naked-eye planets through 2020. In doing that, I realized that all three outer planets will be in retrograde in 2020, which means they’ll be close together and high in the evening sky! So I wondered if there would be any more good alignments. Here’s what I found.

Details for 2011, since that’s this year: It is a lousy year for planets in the evening.  We loose Jupiter in March, then there are a couple weeks before Saturn comes out in April through the end of August. Mercury’s best apparition for the year is in July, when twilight lasts the longest. Mid September Jupiter comes back out, and that’s it until 2012. No Mars, no Venus until December.

In 2012, Jupiter, Venus and Mars are out in the early evening early in the year, with Saturn joining the group in April. There’s a brief appearance of Mercury in March so on March first you can see all the planets between sunset and midnight. Of course this year is also the transit of Venus in June.

For 2013, the inner planets make a good showing in June.

In 2014 you can get Mercury, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn all between sunset and midnight in mid-May.

2015 May again brings a nice grouping, this time including Venus, so all the naked-eye planets will be out in the evening!

Summer of 2016 has Venus, Jupiter and Mercury clustered together near the Sun (i.e. low in the west just after sunset), and Mars and Saturn clustered together. If this happened in winter (with less twilight) I’d expect people to call the department to ask about UFOs!

2017 is the slow but steady year. Mars and Venus start the year. Venus disappears, the Jupiter appears as Mars disappears. Mercury puts in an appearance in July, just as Saturn comes out. Saturn finally disappears in October. No Mars this year.

Mercury Venus Jupiter and Saturn all appear in July 2018, then Mars comes out as Mercury disappears.

2019 is another slow and steady year. Mercury joins Mars in the west in June, with Jupiter in the east. Saturn appears after Mars is gone. Late in the year, Saturn disappears and Venus comes out. There are no good groupings, but there’s no long period without planets either.

2020 starts slow with just Venus. Mercury joins it in May.  Saturn and Jupiter take over the evening skies in August in a very close conjunction. They are joined by Mercury in the west and Mars in the east in September.



1. MoonSurfer - June 4, 2015

Thank you so much, for this informations!

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