Dance of the Planets


For the next several nights, Jupiter, Venus and Mercury will be dancing at sunset. On some nights, they will form a very nice triangle low in the west. In order to view the alignment, you will need a clear western horizon, preferably from a fairly high location. The Iowa County Astronomers are planning to gather at Governor Dodge State park Meadow Valley trailhead Friday at dusk if it is clear. After the planets set, we’ll have a few telescopes set up to look at the Moon and Saturn.

In the picture above, each frame shows the positions of the planets at 9:15 each night for the next week. I used the free astronomy planetarium software Stellarium to show the planets as they would look from Mineral Point.

Directions to the observing spot: At the entrance to the park, take the left road to Twin Valley, go past Stephens Falls 1/4 mile, and then turn right (towards Twin Valley Campground). This road goes along the ridgetop. Go 1/2 mile where the Meadow Valley Trail crosses the road. There will be a big map of the park to your left. Park sticker is required for entrance to the park.

– Contributed by John Wunderlin

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