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  • February 25, 2019

Planets visible to the naked eye - February 25, 2019

  • Planétarium Rio Tinto Alcan
Photo: Sophie Desrosiers
Planets visible to the naked eye

From February 25 to March 11, 2019

Mercury is still visible at dusk, low in the west, but the tiny planet rapidly the first evenings in March. Look for a tiny point of light less than 10 degrees above the horizon, 45 minutes after sunset. The best viewing period for Mercury extends until about March 1. After that date, the planet falls back toward the glare of the sun and its brightness decreases rapidly. Mercury becomes very difficult to spot after March 4 or 5; it passes between Earth and the sun (inferior conjunction) a few days later, on March 14.

Venus, the dazzling Morning Star, appears lower and lower in the south-east at the very end of the night and at dawn. It emerges above the east-southeast horizon 1 ½ hours before sunrise; at dawn, it stands only about 10 degrees high in the southeast. Much fainter Saturn appears to the right of Venus. On the morning of March 2, the thin lunar crescent lies less than 5 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 45 degrees high in the west-southwest, and sets in the west-northwest before 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 southeast at the end of the night and at dawn. The Giant Planet rises after 2:30 a.m. and gradually climbs in the sky, reaching some 20 degrees above the south-southeast horizon 45 minutes before sunrise. On the morning of February 27, the waning crescent Moon hangs 2 ½ degrees to the upper right 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 sky takes on more colours (about 45 minutes before sunrise) Saturn will be some 12 degrees above the horizon, to the right of dazzling Venus. On the morning of March 1, the crescent moon shines 3 degrees to the right of Saturn.

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