Awesome Astronomy: Five Planets Align for Oregon, the Coast This Month
Published 01/19/2016 at 8:23 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff
(Oregon Coast) – The interstellar fun begins tonight, and sadly it probably can't be seen due to cloudy skies. However, a unique alignment of five planets will grace the skies above inland Oregon and the coast from now until February 20. (Photo above: Manzanita at night, looking at how the five planets will align).
It all happens in the chilly pre-dawn sky, with Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn placing themselves in the sky on a slight arc, seen in a southerly direction - mostly southeast. They will cover a large area of the sky, so try to find a view unobstructed by trees. This will make the Oregon coast particularly inviting, once the weather clears at night.
Also look for the stars Spica and Antares in the same area.
Mercury will be the most difficult to see as it will be the faintest, but Venus will stand out as the brightest sky fairly low on the horizon. Look just to the left and slightly below of Venus to help guide you to Mercury. Some astronomers are saying it may require binoculars to see, but the rest of the planets will be bright enough.
The no-shows are Pluto, Neptune and Uranus – but these are not visible with the naked eye in the first place. You can often spot them with a telescope, however. Uranus can sometimes be seen with the naked eye if conditions are dark enough.
In Oregon and around the Pacific Northwest, scientists say start peeking out about 45 minutes before sunrise, and the planets should still be visible until about 7:30 a.m. Where to stay for this event - Where to eat - Map and Virtual Tour
Around the Oregon coast, some headlands to the southeast may block the view just slightly. For best results, head to a high vantage point such as Cape Foulweather by Depoe Bay, the pullouts between Yachats and Cape Perpetua, Ecola State Park at Cannon Beach or even atop Cape Kiwanda (although this is not advisable to climb at night unless you are armed with plenty of light-making gear). LIkely the best viewpoint will be the Neahkahnie overlooks by Manzanita.
Flat beaches far from headlands to the south may produce good viewing as well, such as Waldport, Newport, Cannon Beach and Manzanita. See more Oregon Coast Weather.
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