In two former posts (see here and here), I drew your attention to the gathering of naked-eye planets in the east before dawn. Up until now, all of the Venus—Jupiter—Mars activity has occurred in the constellation Leo, but on Monday, 2 November magnitude+1.7 Mars crosses the border into Virgo. Hot in pursuit, magnitude -4.3 Venus also crosses the Leo-Virgo border the following morning when the two planets will be closest at just 41 arcminutes apart, or ~0.7 degrees. On 3 November, Mars will have a miniscule disc spanning just 4.3 arcseconds, or one fifth of Venus’ diameter.
However, you don’t need a telescope to follow the changing configuration of these three fascinating planets on successive days as it will be obvious to the naked eye or in binoculars. And if you have a low-power, wide-angle binocular, you can encompass all three in the same field of view throughout the period in question — if weather permits, naturally!
Inside the magazine
You can find out more about this month’s planetary peregrinations in the November edition of Astronomy Now in addition to a full guide to the night sky.
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