Paper Plate Education
"Serving the Universe on a Paper Plate"

2002 Spring Planets

Planet positions on May 5, 2002

In Spring 2002 the visible planets nearly align in the same general direction east of the sun.  This translates into a stunning view at and after sunset, with the planets strung out in a line left and upwards of the set sun.  After a day of paced dancing, each planet is in a slightly different position on the solar system dance floor.   Don't miss this celestial treat for stargazers in April and May!

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April 18 April 25 May 2 May 5 May 5 (zoom) May 5 (from space) May 5 (orbits)

Click on and print the charts above to see the planetary alignment around 9:00 p.m. (daylight time) on the respective dates in 2002.   Also anticipate these evening scenes imaged by the fun folks at the Henry Buhl, Jr. Planetarium in Pittsburgh.  Venus & Mars are alright...

With a paper plate Planet Pointer you can predict the relative appearance of the planets in the western evening sky.  You can also model the planets in orbit around the sun with the Dynamic Solar System activity.  Or demonstrate the scale of the planets relative to the sun with a Plateful of Planets activity.

Planet gazers near South Bend, IN, can visit the Penn-Harris-Madison Planetarium for special observing opportunities on the above dates at 7:00 p.m. EST.  Come regardless of the weather as we explore this planetary event both in the planetarium and with telescopes outside.

Use the Thin Crescent Moon to Find the Planets*
April and May, 2002

Date (2002) Evening View Moon near... Moon Phase View Highlight
April 12 wpe1.gif (8680 bytes)


(New Moon)

April 14 wpe1A.gif (8557 bytes)

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April 15 wpe1E.gif (8477 bytes)

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April 16 wpe2A.gif (8519 bytes)

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April 18 wpe2E.gif (8526 bytes)

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May 5 wpe35.gif (8070 bytes)     wpe37.gif (5084 bytes)
May 14 wpe39.gif (8548 bytes)
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Venus & Mars
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*Note:  These charts show the sun just after sunset around 9:00 p.m. daylight time.  The brighter planets, like Jupiter and Venus, can be seen in the bright glow of dusk.  Mercury, meanwhile, once visible will only be seen for a short time before it closely follows the sun below the horizon.  It is a short viewing window.  Also, though the moon may physically be near a planet, it may not be visible as shown on these charts until it has moved "a few days' worth" from the sun.

Lyrics of "Venus & Mars" by Paul McCartney
Sitting In The Stand Of The Sports Arena 
Waiting For The Show To Begin 
Red Lights, Green Lights, Strawberry Wine, 
A Good Friend Of Mine, Follows The Stars, 
Venus And Mars 
Are Alright Tonight. 


Make your own 

whole sky

star chart at

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or at Sky View Cafe at  


or at Sky & Telescope magazine at


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Copyright 2012 Chuck Bueter.  All rights reserved.