Find plan­ets quickly

All About Space - - 15 Astronomy Tips -

10 Find­ing ’wan­der­ing stars’ should be dif­fi­cult, and most peo­ple think that plan­ets can be seen at any time and in any po­si­tion in the night sky. Af­ter all, plan­ets are al­ways mov­ing as they or­bit the Sun at dif­fer­ent speeds. In fact, it’s easy to find plan­ets be­cause there’s a line go­ing from east to west across the night sky on which all plan­ets are found. This is the eclip­tic, and it’s the path the Sun takes across the day­time sky. Note where sun­rise and sun­set take place, and have a rough idea of where the Sun is at noon, and you’ve got it. The eclip­tic is noth­ing short of the flat plane of the So­lar Sys­tem, which stargaz­ers get to see side-on, and it’s here – and only here – that you’ll see plan­ets dur­ing dark­ness. So don’t ever look to the north, or di­rectly above, and spec­u­late whether a bright star could be a planet. It’s way sim­pler than that.

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