Friday, October 29
Venus reaches greatest eastern elongation (47°) from the Sun at 5 P.M. EDT. You’ll find the planet high in the southwestern sky after the Sun sets, blazing a bright magnitude –4.5.
Through a telescope, Venus spans 25″ and still appears half-lit, having reached dichotomy (when it is exactly 50 percent lit) last week. As we move into November, the planet will remain bright, growing in angular size but shrinking in phase, appearing more crescentlike as the days go by.
Farther east along the ecliptic from Venus is Saturn, which sits 43.5° east of the brilliant planet and glows a much more muted magnitude 0.5. Still, Saturn is stunning through a telescope, showing off its famous ring system, which appears nearly 39″ end to end.
Finally, 15.4° east of Saturn is magnitude –2.5 Jupiter. The solar system’s biggest planet, Jupiter currently appears 42″ across. Its large face features several alternating cloud bands and storms, including its Great Red Spot. Although the spot won’t transit tonight, the Earth-sized storm will cross the face of Jupiter while the planet is easily visible tomorrow, reaching a midpoint halfway across the planet shortly before 9 P.M. EDT.