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Planets visible to the naked eye

  • Photo: Sophie Desrosiers

    From July 1 to 15, 2019

    Mercury, now very faint, vanishes in the glare of sunset during the first days of July. The tiny planet passes between Earth and the sun (inferior conjunction) on July 21, after which it will reappear in the morning sky in early August. On the evening of July 3, the thin lunar crescent draws a triangle with Mars and Mercury: use binoculars to catch this trio very low on the west-northwest horizon, near the end of civil twilight.

    Venus, the dazzling Morning Star, is gradually sinking in the glow of sunrise and appears lower and lower in the northeast at dawn: 20 minutes before sunrise, it stands barely 3 degrees above the horizon. We completely lose sight of Venus sometime around mid-July. On the morning of July 1, the thin lunar crescent appears about 7 degrees to the right of the Venus, very low on the east-northeast horizon.

    Mars is now visible with much difficulty at dusk. Use binoculars to spot the Red Planet, very low in the west-northwest, 30 minutes after sunset. On the evening of July 3, the thin lunar crescent draws a triangle with Mars and Mercury: binoculars are essential to catch this trio. Mars sinks lower and lower in the glow of twilight, and it completely vanishes from view during July.

    Jupiter shines brightly in the south in late evening and in the middle of the night. The Giant Planet appears during twilight in the south-southeast and culminates some 22 degrees above the southern horizon around 11:00 p.m., and sets in the southwest before dawn. The waxing gibbous Moon will shine to the left of Jupiter during the night of July 13 to 14.

    Saturn is at opposition on July 9 and visible all night. The Ringed Planet emerges in the southeast at sunset, culminates 23 degrees high in the south around 1:00 a.m., and sets in the southwest at sunrise. During the night of July 15 to 16, the nearly full Moon gradually approaches Saturn, eventually coming within 1 degree below the planet.

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