Planet parade for Christmas

First published in Sky Watch The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by

THERE is something of a Planet Parade on view as Christmas approaches, and skywatchers who don't mind staying up late can see three of Earth's sister worlds before midnight.

First to appear is Venus, which can now be seen shining low in the south-west after sunset. It's scraping the treetops at dusk this month, but as the weeks pass it will climb higher and get much brighter.

Having found Venus, turn your back on it and you'll see blue-white Jupiter shining high in the eastern sky. You probably saw Jupiter and the Moon close together in the sky last week?

Last, but not least, Mars is now rising in the east before midnight. Look for an orange-hued (not red, it's more of an orange Spangle colour) 'star' shining just above the horizon after 11pm. Again, not that impressive just yet, but it will be in a few months.

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