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Upcoming planet viewing opportunities

by William J. Bechaver

EARTH — This month, we still have several excellent opportunities to view the planets in our solar system.

Although Venus is now gradually sinking lower in the west, it still presents beautiful viewing opportunities, as it remains high and brilliant after sunset.

Though slightly lower than it was last week, and with the sun setting earlier every evening, Venus is making an earlier departure. But with it now gaining on us in our orbit, it is growing ever closer to Earth, and shining slightly more brightly with each successive week.

When at its highest, it was 64 million miles from Earth, but now it has swung around, and will be just over 48 million miles distant by the time we view it next weekend.

Don’t forget our special viewing of all the planets scheduled for three evenings next weekend. On the evening of Friday, September 7, we will set up the new SPACE Telescope for the first of three scheduled public viewings. It will be the first official viewing with the new telescope system.

Everyone is invited to attend the public viewing. We will be set up behind the Huerfano County Community Center, located on Tenth Street and Russell in Walsenburg, on the north side of the John Mall High School baseball field. We will set up inside the third baseline gate, just in foul territory.

We will set up before the sun sets, and begin viewing Venus as soon as it is dark enough to see it, beginning at about 8 pm.

We are planning on setting up every night that weekend, to give many people the opportunity to view the planets, and give us the chance to avoid foul weather or cloudy sky conditions. Public viewings will be available Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening, September 7 – 9.

So, try to join us one of the evenings for beautiful views of Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars. There is even a chance to view the most distant planet, Neptune, as it lies in the ideal position for viewing that night!.

Come to the community center for rare views of the planets of our solar system. The viewings are presented by S·P·A·C·E • Spanish Peaks Amateur Cosmos Enthusiasts, the premier astronomical society for southern Colorado and northern New Mexico, and are sponsored by the World Journal.

Thanks for your continued interest in astronomy, and hope to see you at the planetary viewing on September 7!

William J. Bechaver is the director of S·P·A·C·E • Spanish Peaks Amateur Cosmos Enthusiasts, the premier Astronomical Society for Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico.