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Planets visible to the naked eye

  • Photo: Sophie Desrosiers

    From March 11 to 25, 2019

    Mercury passes between Earth and the sun (inferior conjunction) on March 14. The tiny planet emerges at dawn during the following days, but it is too low on the horizon and too faint to be visible in the glow of sunrise.

    Venus, the dazzling Morning Star, appears lower and lower in the east-southeast at dawn. It emerges above the horizon about one hour before sunrise; 30 minutes before sunrise, it stands only about 7 degrees high. On the morning of April 1, the thin lunar crescent lies about 10 degrees to the right of the Morning Star.

    Mars is receding from Earth and still slowly fading. Despite this, the Red Planet remains an easily identifiable object: it appears at dusk about 40 degrees high in the west, and sets in the west-northwest after 11:00 p.m. Mars moves rapidly with respect to the background stars and constellations: follow its trajectory as it’s heading toward Taurus and the Pleiades star cluster. On the evening of March 11, the waxing crescent moon lays 7 degrees to the left of the Red Planet.

    Jupiter is very bright and easy to see in the south-southeast at the end of the night and at dawn. The Giant Planet rises in the southeast after 2:30 a.m. and gradually climbs in the sky, culminating some 20 degrees in the south shortly before sunrise before sunrise. On the morning of March 27, the waning gibbous Moon hangs less than 4 degrees to the left of Jupiter.

    Saturn is now visible at the end of the night and at dawn. The Ringed Planet emerges in the southeast after 4:30 a.m.; by the time the horizon begins to take on some colours (about one hour before sunrise) Saturn will be some 15 degrees high. On the morning of March 29, the crescent moon shines 3 degrees to the lower left of Saturn.

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