Mars / Venus conjunction on Nov 3

As followers of these News items will know, most recent planetary activity has been taking place in the morning sky with Mars, Venus and Jupiter carrying out a merry dance and at times joined in their activities by the Moon and Mercury. This dance routine continues (see John Rogers’ post of October 29) but a particular highlight occurs on the morning of November 3 (this Tuesday) when Mars and Venus come within 41 arcsec of each other. This is well within the low power field of view of many telescopes, making a wonderful imaging and viewing opportunity.

The chart below shows the position of the planets (including Jupiter) at 06:00UT on the morning of November 3 from London. At this time Mars and Venus will be at an altitude of 31 degrees above the south-eastern horizon, so well clear of many trees and buildings. Brilliant Venus at magnitude -4.3 (and just over 50% phase with a diameter of 22 arcsec) clearly dominates and has the power to shine through morning mist and bedroom curtains while little Mars, on its way to opposition next May, only manages a diameter of 4.3 arcsec and a magnitude of +1.7. Jupiter, lying 7 degrees away to the north-west, shines at magnitude -1.8 with a disk diameter of 33 arcsec. The bright stars on the chart are beta Virginis (mag 3.6), sigma Leonis (mag 4.0) and chi Leonis (mag 4.6). Sunrise from London is at 06:53.

Hopefully the morning mist which heralded the start of November – and in East Anglia has remained all day – will not spoil this event. If you manage any observations please post them on the BAA Forum for others to enjoy.

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