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Planets visible to the naked eye

  • Photo: Sophie Desrosiers

    From April 10 to 24, 2017

    Mercury is currently in the evening sky, but is now too faint to be visible against the bright twilight. Its elongation with respect to the sun is shrinking, and the tiny planet will be at inferior conjunction on April 29; Mercury will then move to the morning sky.

    Venus is now visible as the Morning Star. It can be found low in the east, some 30 minutes before sunrise. A pair of binoculars will help to spot it in the colours of dawn. A thin crescent moon will hang 8 degrees to the lower right of Venus on the morning of April 23.

    Mars appears at dusk more than 15 degrees above the west horizon, and sets in the west-northwest around 10:00 p.m. It shines with an orange tint, and is presently similar in brightness to the brighter stars. The Red Planet will pass between the Hyades and Pleiades star clusters during the last week of April. On the evening of April 27, the crescent moon will rest 10 degrees to the left of Mars.

    Jupiter is just past opposition (April 7) and is visible all night. The bright planet appears at dusk above the east-southeast horizon, culminates around midnight some 39 degrees high in the south, and sets in the west-southwest at dawn. Bright star Spica shines with a bluish-white tint a few degrees to the south the giant planet. The full moon rises along with Jupiter on April 10, with just 2 degrees separating this stunning duo.

    Saturn is visible at the end of the night and at dawn. Look for the Ringed Planet low in the southeast after 1:30 a.m.; it culminates at dawn, 22 degrees above the southern horizon. The waning gibbous moon will appear near Venus on the mornings of April 16 and 17.

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