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  • December 3, 2018

Planets visible to the naked eye - December 3, 2018

  • Planétarium Rio Tinto Alcan
Photo: Sophie Desrosiers

From December 3 to 17, 2018

Mercury is visible low in the east-southeast at dawn, one hour before sunrise. The tiny planet will move away from the sun glare over the coming days, and its brightness will increase at the same time, making it easier to spot. On the morning of December 5, the thin waning crescent Moon hangs 3 degrees above Mercury.

Venus is the dazzling Morning Star visible at the end of the night and at dawn. It emerges above the east-southeast horizon about 3 ½ hours before sunrise; at dawn, it stands more than 25 degrees high in the southeast. On the morning of December 3, the waning crescent Moon hangs 5 degrees above Venus.

Mars is receding from Earth since its opposition in late July. The Red Planet is slowly fading, but remains conspicuously bright: it appears in the south-southeast at dusk, culminates shortly before 6:00 p.m. some 35 degrees high in the south, and sets in the west-southwest after 11:00 p.m. During the evening of December 14, the waxing crescent moon approaches within 4 degrees below the Red Planet.

Jupiter gradually reappears at dawn after December 12. Look for the giant planet very low in the southeast, a few degrees below Mercury, about 40 minutes before sunrise. Jupiter is pulling away from the sun’s glare and becomes easier to see with each passing day.

Saturn is sinking in the glare of sunset. The ringed planet appears during evening twilight less than 10 degrees high in the southwest, and sets about an hour later. On December 8 and 9, at dusk, the thin crescent moon appears near Saturn, very low on the horizon, 45 minutes after sunset.

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