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Skywatching In 2017: Here’s When To Look Up To Catch The Planets

5 January 2017, 2:23 pm EST By Kalyan Kumar Tech Times
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A complete guide on star gazing shows everything needed to catch astronomical sights in 2017. In the photo, people are seen watching passage of Venus in front of the Sun using filtered optics at a site in New York.   ( Mario Tama | Getty Images )

People are understandably excited about how they could improve their stargazing experience in the new year. Having a complete guide will be a boost as it carries all inputs on when to see astronomical sights in its perfection.

The guide predicts the best astronomical sights of the night skies in 2017, such as the passing of a particular planet near another planet or bright stars. It also updates about the constellations each planet would occupy during the year with precise details, such as oppositions, conjunctions, and elongations.

Mercury: This evening star will show up in the western sky and will set hardly an hour after sunset. As a morning star of the eastern sky, it will be up at least an hour before the sun and the yellowish color lends it a bright look.

In 2017, Mercury may be best watched in the mornings from Jan. 5 to Feb. 14, and from March 23 to April 8 during the evenings.

To see Mercury in its brightest self, better watch out for the evening sky between March 23 and April 8. For seeing the brightest spot, the morning sky from Sept. 6 to Sept. 20 is recommended.

Venus: According to the guide, Venus will shine brightly with silvery light and appear in the western sky from Jan. 1 to March 16 at dusk.

In the eastern sky, Venus can be viewed at dawn from April 3 through Nov. 13. The brightest version in the evening sky can peer from Jan. 30 through March 1 and the best brilliance reserved for Feb. 17.

Mars: The brightness of Mars may vary. The yellow-orange tint when bright can be watched better from Jan. 1 to June 6 in the evenings and mornings of Sept. 11 to Dec. 31.

However, 2017 will be a subdued year for Mars as the planet will not be in its fully bright self. The aphelion effect will keep Mars too far from the Sun and on Oct. 7, it will be exactly 154.9 million miles away from the Sun and further remote from the Earth by 235 million miles.

Jupiter: Jupiter will gleam in a silver-white hue and can be watched from Jan. 1 to April 6 in the mornings. Till Oct. 6 from April 7, the evenings will be good for fine viewing. In 2017, Jupiter will shine with a silvery hue in the backdrop of a dimming Virgo.

Saturn: Saturn will appear in a yellowish-white hue, its rings of Saturn will only show up in telescopes — magnified at least 30 power. The rings' visibility will be up as it will be on maximum tilt towards the Earth on Oct. 17.

Uranus: The planet can be watched with bare eyes but a telescope can reveal the tiny and greenish disk in detail. Seeing it is best in evenings from Jan. 1 to March 29 and in the mornings from April 30 to Oct. 18.

Neptune: In 2017, the planet will remain in the constellation Aquarius. But the blue colored piece can be watched better with telescopes or stargazing binoculars from Jan. 1 through Feb. 15 during evenings and morning gaze will be good between March 18 and Sept. 4.

Apps For Star Gazing

Gone were the days when people had to rely on books and telescopes to study constellations and planetary bodies. Now the apps are doing that bit of job.

Now many apps are crowding the market and lovers of astronomy are using smartphones in star gazing for making the exercise less tedious.

As many as 10 popular apps in iOS or Android are doing the rounds and can support in finding locations of planets, stars, and satellites.

Using augmented reality they combine the smart phone's camera to show exactly where the stars are and aim the camera towards the sky and locate of stars and constellations.

They also update with relevant information about a celestial body and educate the viewer well in advance with the relevant info.

  • Star Chart: Star Chart app is strong in time travel and moves 10,000 years to and fro in time. It also supports in changing the location to view the night sky from other points.
  • NASA App: It gives updates about the latest NASA missions. The offerings cover news, images, satellite trackers and NASA TV's live stream.
  • Night Sky Lite: The app offers a community that suggests great stargazing locations and also checks whether conditions are conducive for the coming night's stargazing. The platform is available on both iOS and Android.

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