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  • December 18, 2017

Planets visible to the naked eye - December 18, 2017

  • Planétarium Rio Tinto Alcan
Photo: Sophie Desrosiers

From December 18, 2017, to January 1, 2018

Mercury passed between Earth and the Sun (inferior conjunction) on December 12. After December 21, it rapidly emerges at dawn for a favourable morning apparition. Using binoculars, look for the tiny planet by scanning the southeast horizon, 45 minutes before sunrise; Mercury gradually becomes brighter over the coming weeks.

Venus is too close to the Sun and is not currently visible. Venus passes behind the Sun (superior conjunction) on January 9, and will reappear in the evening sky later that month.

Mars now rises in the east-southeast, about 4 ½ hours before the Sun. At dawn, the Red Planet shines in the south-southeast, to the upper right of bright Jupiter. Notice how bright Jupiter is drawing closer and closer to Mars over the coming weeks: the two planets will have a close encounter on January 6 and 7. On the morning of January 11, the lunar crescent will hang less than 4 degrees from Mars and Jupiter — a beautiful sight at dawn!

Jupiter rises about 4 hours before the Sun in the east-southeast. At dawn the bright planet shines in the south-southeast, with fainter Mars to its upper right. Notice how Jupiter is drawing closer and closer to Mars over the coming weeks: the two planets will have a close encounter on January 6 and 7. On the morning of January 11, the lunar crescent will hang less than 4 degrees from Mars and Jupiter — a beautiful sight at dawn!

Saturn is too close to the Sun and is not currently visible. The Ringed Planet passes behind the Sun (conjunction) on December 21, and gradually reappears at dawn during the first week of January.

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