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  • February 26, 2018

Planets visible to the naked eye - February 26, 2018

  • Planétarium Rio Tinto Alcan
Photo: Sophie Desrosiers

From February 26 to March 12, 2018

Mercury passed behind the Sun (superior conjunction) on February 17 and now reappears in the early evening sky: look for the tiny planet very low above the western horizon, near dazzling Venus, 30 minutes after sunset. From March 2 to 4, Mercury hangs about one degree to the right of the Evening Star. On March 18, at dusk, the thin crescent moon joins Venus and Mercury, drawing a line with the two planets. Note that Mercury is brightest at the beginning of this apparition, and gradually becomes fainter from day to day.

Venus is now visible at dusk, very low in the west, 20 minutes after sunset; the bright Evening Star sets shortly thereafter. The visibility of Venus will keep improving as it slowly pulls away from the Sun’s glare over the coming weeks. Let Venus guide you to fainter Mercury, which will stay within a few degrees of Venus until the third week in March: from March 2 to 4, the tiny planet hangs just over one degree to the right of the Evening Star. On March 18, at dusk, the thin crescent moon joins Venus and Mercury, drawing a line with the two planets.

Mars rises in the southeast around 2:30 a.m., and climbs above the south-southeast horizon at dawn. The Red Planet currently shines between bright Jupiter to its right, and Saturn to its left. On the morning of March 10, the crescent moon appears between Mars and Saturn, completing a large, flattened triangle with the two planets.

Jupiter appears above the east-southeast horizon around midnight and culminates 27 degrees high in the south before dawn. On the morning of March 7, the waning gibbous Moon hangs less than 3 ½ degrees above bright Jupiter.

Saturn emerges above the southeast horizon around 3:30 a.m., and gains some height during dawn until it becomes lost in the brightening glow of approaching sunrise. On the morning of March 10, the crescent moon appears between Mars and Saturn, drawing a wide, flattened triangle with the two planets. The next day, March 11, the lunar crescent shines 4 degrees to the left of the Ringed Planet.

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