Stargazing: Celestial bookends

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Jupiter and Saturn, the two largest planets in the solar system, can be seen on opposite sides of the sky two hours after sunset this week.

Jupiter has been our bright “evening star” since early January and is now positioned to drop out of the evening sky in late June. The Jovian giant is shining at a dazzling bright –1.9 magnitude and is located in Gemini, 20 degrees above the western horizon two hours after sunset. The width of your clenched fist held out to the horizon measures about 10 degrees of the sky.

Golden-colored Saturn, now in opposition, rises at sunset and is in the sky all night long. Because Earth and Saturn are as close as they will get to each other all year, the ring world will appear at its brightest, about .07 magnitude, and biggest through a telescope. After locating Jupiter in the west tonight, look for dimmer Saturn 20 degrees above the southeastern horizon and 17 degrees to the lower left of the moon.

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