Mercury is often a difficult planet to find, but there are certain short periods each year when

In 2009, Northern Hemisphere observers will find two periods when Mercury can easily be

Southern Hemisphere observers will find Mercury well placed in the morning sky during


Venus is well placed for observation most of the year. As 2009 begins, Venus is a brilliant


Mars is not well placed for observation for most of 2009. It is a few weeks past conjunction with the Sun as the year begins, becoming visible in the morning sky in February. It reaches 10 arc seconds in diameter at the beginning of December, heading towards opposition on January 29, 2010. Even at opposition, it will be only 14.1 arc seconds in diameter, as compared with its size of 25.1 arc seconds in August 2003.


Except for a few days at the beginning of the year, Jupiter spends the whole of 2009 in Capricornus,


Saturn will spend most of the year in Leo, moving into Virgo on September 2. Saturn can be viewed in the evening sky until August, when it approaches conjunction with the Sun. From October to the end of the year, it will be visible in the morning sky. The rings will appear edge-on in 2009, making them difficult to see in small telescopes. Saturn?s moons will be easier to see than usual because of the lack of glare from the rings. The ?missing? rings will also make Saturn much dimmer than usual to the unaided eye. The maximum possible tilt is 27 degrees, which last occurred in 2003. At opposition, the angular diameter will be 19.8 arc seconds.


Uranus is best viewed in late summer and early fall. It is in opposition on September 17, when it moves from the morning sky into the evening sky. Although it may be seen with the naked eye in a very dark sky, usually binoculars will be required to make it out. Its angular diameter is less than 4 arcseconds.


Neptune is best viewed during the late summer and early fall. It is in opposition on August 17, when it moves from the morning sky into the evening sky. Binoculars or a small telescope will be required to see it. The angular diameter is about 2 arcseconds.

Source: RASC - Observer's Handbook 2009

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