Mercury (mv = -1.5) and Jupiter (mv = -1.9) are in close proximity to the eclipsed Sun and both will be easily visible during totality. As the brightest planet in the sky, Venus can actually be observed in broad daylight provided that the sky is cloud free and of high transparency (i.e. - no dust or particulates). During the 1998 eclipse, Venus is located 42° west of the Sun where it will reach greatest elongation the following month. Look for the planet during the partial phases by first covering the crescent Sun with an extended hand. Venus will be shining at its greatest brilliancy (mv=-4.5) so it will be impossible to miss during totality. Mars (mv=+1.2) and Saturn (mv=+0.9) are located 17° and 40° east of the Sun, respectively. They will prove more challenging to spot than the other planets, but not too difficult if the sky transparency is good. Under the right circumstances, it should be possible to view all five classical planets, the Moon and the Sun (or at least it's corona) as one's eyes sweep across the darkened sky during totality.
A number of the brightest summer/autumn stars may also be visible during totality. Twenty degrees south of the Sun, Fomalhaut (mv=+1.16) will have an altitude of 50°, while Achernar (mv=+0.46) lies 20° above the southeastern horizon. The summer triangle composed of Altair (mv = +0.77), Deneb (mv = +1.25), and Vega (mv =+ 0.03), will be located in the northwest while Capella (mv = +0.08) stands 10° high in the northeast.
The following ephemeris [using Bretagnon and Simon, 1986] gives the positions of the naked eye planets during the eclipse. Delta is the distance of the planet from Earth (A.U.'s), V is the apparent visual magnitude of the planet, and Elong gives the solar elongation or angle between the Sun and planet.
Table of Contents
[End of file]