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Springtime ripe for viewing planets



Using a downloadable astronomy tool named SkyGlobe, Bill Wilburn " who helps man Science Museum Oklahoma's planetarium shows in his off time " can keep tabs on the heavens above from his office or home below. But it doesn't beat viewing the splendor of spring with his own two eyes.

And, at a time of year when most people are looking down " at green grass and flowers appearing beneath their feet " April and May offer some of the best reasons, in Wilburn's opinion, to look up.

"The springtime's always interesting," he said. "The sky is so full. It's partly because of (the) "¦ configuration of our solar system within our galaxy. We're seeing sort of the end of the winter sky " and spring stuff " and in early morning, what's coming up in summer. So there's actually a lot to see."

In spring, some familiar winter constellations begin to fade. Instead, evening viewers can note another star pattern: the Big Dipper. This week, it rises around 9 p.m. in the northeastern sky, about 45 to 50 degrees up, according to Wilburn.

Stars don't have all the glory in spring. High overhead at 9 p.m., as well, is Mars, a reddish-orange color. In the eastern sky, about 45 degrees above the horizon, Saturn gleams a yellowish-white. The planets are so bright, viewers should be able to spot them with unaided eye, even in the city. "Emily Jerman

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