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by William Armstrong
25 Aug 2012
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Midnight Planets Puzzle

Genre: Science Puzzle Rating: 5 - Medium Source: Jim Sinclair
Brain Functions: Visual Thinking, Analysis Hint    Solution

If you Google the word 'Almaniac', you'll learn about a fascinating event. The Almaniac is a semi-annual competition that tests logic, alertness, and common sense. It challenges you to research the answers to some questions that aren't as easy as they appear at first. Here is an example of a science question from a few years ago. I'm recalling this from memory, so it won't be exactly the way Jim Sinclair wrote it for the contest. I have to admit that I got the wrong answer. See if you are more "puzzle wise" than I was.

If you went outside at midnight on a dark, clear night with terrific visibility, a powerful telescope, and knowledge of the locations of all the planets, what is the maximum number of planets in our solar system that you could see? This is not a trick question. Assume ideal planetary alignments and perfect viewing conditions.

Note: In 2006, the International Astronomical Union declared that Pluto was not a planet. Pluto was demoted to a Kuiper Belt object. For the purposes of this question, there are only eight planets in our solar system. The sequence of the planets is this:

Midnight Planets Puzzle

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