Venus, below, moon and Jupiter, above, as seen February 26, 2012 in Manila, Philippines by Jv Noriega
This is a guest post by my mother about the five planets currently visible in the night sky. This is a rare moment where most of the solar system is visible to the naked eye. I’ve seen Mars blazing away as well. There are some more details at earthsky.org. These are my mothers comments on the scene:
“Apparently this has happened after about 10 years. All five major planets are visible to the eye soon after sundown. Ok, practically speaking only three at any time because two are too far down close to the horizon.
Of the nine planets, Uranus and Neptune are too far, and recently, Pluto got demoted to a dwarf plant. We are sitting on one planet. That leaves the other big five – Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn. Right now they happen to be visible at the same time.
As the sun sets look to the west. Venus is bright as ever at about 60 degrees from the horizon and Jupiter is the seemingly smaller one next to it. You cannot miss them since the urban haze hides or fades all other objects in the sky . Those two have been hanging out together for some time now, drifting apart, coming close together and so on. Mercury should be below just above the horizon after sunset but it has been too cloudy near the horizon and it is rather small anyway..
Next look to the east and you can see Mars, the red planet. At about 30-45 degrees from the east. Saturn is just rising from the horizon on the East and difficult see. As the night wears on what you see appearing as two bright pairs of stars is really planet Saturn rising (closer to us with reflected light and no blinking ) along with Spica, a star light years away and with its own light and blinking). Spica is a star in the constellation Virgo which happens to be Saturn’s ‘house’ these days.”
There’s some astrological significance to what’s going on, but more than anything it’s a visual treat.