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WOW!NOV 22, 2010 - Spectacular Conjunction is a NASA Science feature from a few years back, but it's appropriate in view of one of the rarer conjunctions out there, coming up next year. Spectacular as it is, next year's uncommon Mercury-Venus conjunction is in fact invisible. That's because it occurs with Venus on the far side of the Sun; at a time when Mercury, although not behind the Sun, is way too close to the solar disk to be seen from our home planet. This is in fact a triple conjunction, because both planets are conjunct not only each other, but the Sun as well. The Sun aside, this is a Mercury-Venus inferior-superior conjunction: Mercury retrograde in apparent motion and on the same side of Sol as Earth (inferior), Venus direct in motion on the far side of the Sun from Earth (superior). NASA's Spectacular Conjunction page, on the other hand, shows the beautiful Mercury-Venus conjunction of June 25-27, 2005 (exact on the 27th in ecliptic longitude). This was a Mercury-Venus conjunction with both planets direct in motion and near enough their maximum eastern elongation from the Sun to be visible in the evening sky - brilliantly so, as NASA shows. The August 16, 2011 triple conjunction will be felt more than seen, in terms of world events. (More on that in my 2011 World Forecast Highlights, a work in process as I write this.) But you'll probably see a wonderful batch of auroras, if you live near enough the poles!

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