Observing Planets

The inner planets, Mercury and Venus, are rarely far from the sun, and are usually observed close to the horizon through turbulent layers of atmosphere and in twilight. During totality, however, both planets may be viewed high in the sky. Planetary enthusiasts might take a few minutes from a particularly long eclipse to observe and sketch telescopically the dusky markings which Mercury and Venus exhibit.

Outer planets Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, when near solar conjunction, may offer out—of—season targets for enterprising planetary astronomers wishing to see what features they are exhibiting in advance of their return to morning skies from the sun’s glare.