Those looking at these nights under clear skies can see something special. All the planets of our solar system are visible, or at least: they all pass at once during the night. They were closest to each other around 10 p.m. last night, but they’re still in plain sight for the next few days.
Not all planets are visible to the naked eye. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, yes, but Uranus and Neptune are so far away that you usually need at least binoculars to see them. And Mercury is also hard; It can only be found after the sun has set over the southwestern horizon.
By the way, the view of the large planet is not very special. It happens on average every one to two years that the whole family shows up in one night. In June, five planets were still visible at the same time.
“There are always planets to see,” explains astronomer and science journalist Karl Kopeshwar. “Sometimes you have beautiful associations with the moon, or two or three planets. I can warm up to that. But like this ‘everything is visible now!’ “Astronomy is not serious to me. It would be really special if there were no planets to see.”
“But still,” he adds, “if people can be motivated by this fact to research, that’s a wonderful bonus.”
And this is happening more and more. Because you no longer have to build an entire attic observatory to take beautiful pictures of a planet, for example. Telescopes still aren’t cheap, but they are more compact and better than they were a few years ago, says Esther Hanko, an associate amateur astronomer at the University of Amsterdam’s Anton Pannekoek Institute. “For a few hundred euros you already have good binoculars.”
Some amateurs also share their best photos of the whole year at this time, because some planets were better visible a few months ago:
To take pictures of what you see through binoculars, more is needed. A special stellar camera, for example (and has become very affordable in recent years), as well as software for selecting the sharpest images. There is also a navigation system in which the telescope itself searches for a particular celestial body. But none of this is necessary to just look at the planets, says Hanko, who owns one Articles wrote about. “Even with normal binoculars, you can see some of the moons around Jupiter, and in August I also saw the rings around Saturn.”
Self has already taken beautiful pictures of Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn in recent months. There are amateur astronomers who run entire marathons to find as many special objects as they can with their telescopes in one night, but it’s no coincidence that the entire planet family is visible. “This is especially for people who want an introduction to stargazing,” says Hanko. “But it’s also fun for advanced users to take the photos all in one night and then share the photos.”
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