Planets visible to the naked eye
From November 20 to December 4, 2017
Mercury remains immersed in the sun’s glare, and is visible with difficulty at dusk: using binoculars, search for the tiny planet by scanning the south-western horizon, 20 minutes after sunset. Mercury comes within 3 degrees of Saturn during the evenings of late-November and early-December.
Venus is the bright Morning Star, shining low above the east-southeast horizon 30 minutes before sunrise. Venus is sinking back toward the Sun, and it appears lower and lower in the glow of dawn: We’ll lose sight of it around mid-December.
Mars is slowly pulling away from the sun’s glare and now rises more than 3 ½ hours before our star. You’ll find Mars in the southeast at the end of the night and at dawn. Keep an eye on the Red Planet as it approaches bright bluish star Spica: their respective colour makes a striking contrast. The star and planet come within about 3 degrees of each other around November 30. The lunar crescent will hang less than 5 degrees from Mars on the morning of December 13.
Jupiter is pulling away from the Sun and rapidly gains height in the morning sky: the bright planet rises a couple hours before the Sun, and shines at dawn in the east-southeast. The lunar crescent will hang less than 4 degrees from Jupiter on the morning of December 14.
Saturn appears at dusk, barely 5 degrees above the southwest horizon, where it sets around 5:30 p.m. Use binoculars to help you spot the Ringed Planet in the glow of sunset. The crescent moon hangs less than 3 degrees from the Ringed Planet on the evening of November 20. Keep an eye on planet Mercury, which comes within 3 degrees of Saturn during the evenings of late-November and early-December.