Mission Of This Blog

The overall mission statement of this blog is to share many unique topics of this blogger's interest. Topics include (but are not limited to): Travel & Photojournalism, Nature & Wildlife Preservation, Americana, Local Places Of Interest, Southern Cultural Heritage, Local History of the South Carolina Upstate, Confederate Heritage Preservation & Awareness, Science & Science Fiction, Astronomy & Night Sky Photography, Literacy & Writing, Southern Cuisine, Popular Culture & Philosophy, Classic Animation Nostalgia, Fandom ....as well as various other topics explained from the blogger's point of view. The following website contains the UNCENSORED thoughts and opinions of a Southern-born country writer from upstate South Carolina - the living, beating heart of the great American Southland!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Planetary Photography -- 03-05-2018 -- All Five Wanderers This Week!

Greetings and salutations fellow stargazers!

This week all five of the "wandering stars" (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn) were visible in the clear Southern sky over South Carolina.  

Not all at once mind you. Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are visible in the morning along with the Last Quarter Moon while Mercury and Venus appear in the west following the setting sun in the evenings. 

I captured these great shots of Mercury and Venus on the evening of March 5th although they will be visible to stargazers in the evening just after sunset throughout the month and remain visible until they set an hour later over the horizon. Mercury appears very dim because the small planet is in waning phase, but is easily visible beside the larger and brighter Venus. 

This morning (March 9th) I managed to just wake up in time to catch the outer planets and Luna spaced out in the southeastern sky in my front yard just before sunrise along with the bright star Antares just above the treeline. 

The two planets which orbits the Sun inside the Earth's orbit are referred to as inferior planets. Mercury and Venus both orbit the Sun faster than the Earth, and experience inferior conjunctions and superior conjunctions, but never oppositions. 

The best time for observing an inferior planet is when it is at its greatest elongation from the Sun.  In fact, Mercury will reach its greatest eastern elongation -- its maximum angular separation from the setting sun -- on Thursday, March 15, 2018.

All the other major planets, and the majority of the minor and dwarf planets, which orbit outside of Earth's orbit in the solar system are referred to as superior planets. Superior planets orbit the Sun more slowly than the Earth, and experience oppositions and superior conjunctions.

Luna is currently in her Last Quarter and waning towards her New Moon phase as she moves east past the outer planets (she will be between Saturn and Mars on Saturday, March 10th) and continue to set before the sunrise. By Sunday, March 18th she will reappear as a faint crescent next to Mercury and Venus after sunset. The Good Lord and clear skies willing this blogger will capture the whisker-thin very young moon when she meets up with the two inferior planets in the evening sky.

Until next time, keep your eyes to the night skies, y'all hear?