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Reports from Geisei Observatory<March 1999>

• In the western sky Venus and Saturn are seen side by side. Mercury accompanies them appearing as a red spot below them, but will become invisible as it approaches the sun. Let's keep an eye on the planets in the evening sky for a while.

The photo shows Saturn, Venus, Jupiter, Mercury, all the four planets lined up (in the descending order.) An arrow is added to point at Mercury, which is not quite clear. The photo was taken during twilight and at the end of twilight Mercury would set.

I observed from the rooftop of my three-story home in Kochi City, from where I had discovered many comets.

• Bright comets are not visible now, but Comet Jäger (1998 U3) is visible near Gemini at magnitude 11. LINEAR (1998 M5), which was discovered last year, is now seen at 8.5 magnitude in the northern sky. On March 15 it will pass within half a degree of Polaris, which is about half the diameter of the moon. It may not be visible to the naked eye or binoculars, but apertures of 10cm or larger will show it. Most appropriate magnifications will be 20x to 40x. For fuzzy objects such as comets and nebulae, use the lowest effective magnification (2x per 1 cm).

Copyright (C) 1999 Tsutomu Seki.