AUSTIN (KXAN) – If you love stargazing, this month has some great opportunities to see the planets in action.
According to Lara Eakins, Public Outreach Program Coordinator with the University of Texas’ Department of Astronomy, “there’s not any one big spectacular thing going on. But there’s a kind of a good chance to see some of the regular patterns that occur throughout the year.”
One of the coolest thing you can see this month is Venus and Jupiter in a dance.
“Anyone who was out looking for the past few weeks will probably notice there have been two bright objects low in the West after sunset, and they’ve gradually switched places.”
According to Eakins, for the past few weeks Jupiter was the higher bright object and Venus was the lower one. Now, the two objects have switched places, with Jupiter nearing the horizon.
The moon will soon pass by these two planets in the sky. “On the evening of Wednesday, March 22, shortly after sunset, you might be able to catch a very thin crescent moon just above Jupiter.” The moon will then pass by Venus.
Jupiter is actually going to vanish in the night sky, but you’ll be able to see it in the early morning.
“What Jupiter is going to do in the next week or two, it’s actually going to go behind the sun from the earth point of view. So we won’t be able to see it in our skies at all, because it’d be too close to the sun. But then gradually, you’ll start to see it emerge in the morning skies,” Eakins said.
Eakins said that Mercury recently did this, but since it is so small and close to the sun, the planet is hard to see.
Mars and the red stars
Another cool object you can see in the night sky is Mars. “(it) is still kind of overhead right at sunset.”
Eakins said that Mars and two orange stars, Betelgeuse and Aldebaran, are forming a triangle in the sky directly above us., Betelgeuse can be spotted near the constellation Orion, easily found by looking for its belt, which is composed of three stars.
“The other one is the star Aldebaran, on which is in the constellation Taurus. And it’s part of a V shape of stars.” Mars will be the easiest to spot, as it is a more vibrant shade of red.