A month of planetary 'pas de deux'

Posted by barbara on May 18, 2011

So much for the much publicised alignment of the planets (Jupiter, Mars, Mercury and Venus) on 13 May 2011, as in you've got one chance and one chance only. Other than the good folk at the Sydney Observatory and their ilk, how many of us 'ordinary citizens' are aware that the brightest planets in the early morning sky have been making their presence felt since early May.

Each night the four planets have been going through the motions and as they rise above the horizon in the pre-dawn hours, they appear in a different dance move, or 'pose' (a la Madonna) in relationship to each other.

The most fascinating thing is to watch the first planet lever its way above the east north east horizon and seemingly 'drag' the others up into the pre-dawn sky. Being no expert on planetary matters re which is which, let alone the brightest, all I know is that the planets that 'sit' higher in the north northeast sky dominate the spectacle while the last up and hence lowest planet in the celestial quadruplet that we view from our earthly vantage is virtually a no show.

That's not surprising. The lustre of the 'last up' planet is washed out, not by the glow of the others but by the sun's relentless rise towards the horizon that obliterates its reflected light.

The finale of this stand out planetary 'pas de quatre' dance is coming as the month of May draws to a close. And wouldn't it be wonderful if the clouds conspired to stay away.





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