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Time to see other worlds

March 05, 2006|By Julie E. Greene

This is a good time of year to see four planets in the sky with the naked eye, says Rod Martin, planetarium resource teacher for Washington County Public Schools.

Venus and Jupiter can be seen just before sunrise, and Mars and Saturn can be seen after sunset. Venus and Jupiter will appear brighter than will Mars and Saturn.

Tri-State-area residents should be able to see all four planets through April, Martin says. The first to drop from sight will be Venus.

Visitors are welcome to go to the Tri-State Astronomers Star Party from sunset to 11 p.m. Friday, March 31, and Saturday, April 1, near Antietam National Battlefield's Visitors Center. For more information, go to www.tristateastronomers.org. The free event provides a chance to see the planets through a variety of telescopes and is timed to coincide with a crescent moon, Martin says.

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There also will be a penumbral eclipse this month, Martin says. If you didn't know it was going to happen, you probably wouldn't notice it, he says.

For those who want to see if they can, well, see it ? weather permitting, the eclipse will already be in effect when the moon rises in our area at 6:11 p.m. Tuesday, March 14. The eclipse will end at 9:14 p.m.

Basically, the eclipsed moon will be visible but will look dimmer than normal in a clear sky, Martin says.

If you're visiting Africa on March 29, you have a chance to see a total solar eclipse, Martin says.

The Berkeley County Planetarium will present a program on the total solar eclipse, which will be visible from Africa and Asia. The program will be presented at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 14, and 7 p.m.

Thursday, March 16, at Hedgesville High School, 109 Ridge Road in Hedgesville, W.Va. The program is free and open to the public. For more information, call the planetarium director, Elizabeth S. Wasiluk, at 1-304-754-3354, ext. 1040.

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