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Urban Light Pollution Can’t Stop View of 5 Planets At Once!

You can [theoretically] see five planets at once in the pre-dawn sky, now through February 20. It’s the first time since 2005, so it’s an exceptional event worth attempting to see.

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photo from EarthSky.org

I had my doubts that I’d actually experience the sight. Living in the congested mid-Atlantic region, along the East Coast, means we don’t have much of a dark sky. Light pollution tempers the darkness, resulting in a typically medium-gray night sky with domes of brighter, lighter gray along the horizon. I can usually see the Big Dipper, sometimes the belt of Orion in season, and the North Star, but only a handful of other stars – no more than say 30. A bright moon reflecting off our recent snowfall, and the sky is even less dark.

But this morning, standing just outside my front door, with a cloudless sky – all five planets (Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars) – were clearly visible! They were strung out like charms on a bracelet, along the elliptic curve. There they were! I was so delighted I wanted to shout out to my neighbors. (But didn’t, see it was only a little past 5am on a Sunday morning.) It was definitely a fun way to start the day. On the next clear night, I’ll grab my binoculars too and see what kind of closer view I can get.

For all of my “Nature Just Outside My Door” astronomical information, I rely heavily on EarthSky dot Org. They publish a daily newsletter of happenings and their website has clear explanations and graphics of what to look for and where. The organizations’ content has greatly enhanced my appreciation and knowledge of the sky just outside my door.

If you want to know more about the five planets being visible at one time, start on this page.

Try it! Get up early and take a look – were you able to see all five planets?

Succumbing to Hibernation

snowfallA blizzard hit our region this week-end, giving us over 30” of snow. It’s now four days after the storm, but plows have not touched the streets in our neighborhood. And so we have shoveled. And shoveled. And shoveled – enough to make access for emergency vehicles and those folks who really needed to get to work.

Many of us, including myself, could work from home. The storm was predicted well in advance; we had plenty of time to stock up and plan to be homebound for a few days. This is my sixth day of not going anywhere, except outdoors to shovel.

Surprisingly, I’m relishing this respite from busyness. It’s as if Mother Nature is sending a signal: Slow down! Rest up for the activities of summer when the days are long again! ’Nest’ at home with family!

Instead of struggling to get out and get on with my normal running around, I’m surrendering to these obstacles and staying put.

I found that I don’t need to head to the store for entertainment. I don’t have ‘cabin fever’. I’m enjoying working through the odds and ends in my freezer and pantry. I’ve had time to plan summer trip ideas rather than keeping up with the hustle and bustle of trying to get somewhere else.

I like hibernation.

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Junco tracks on my front porch:junco tracks