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Planets visible to the naked eye

  • Photo: Sophie Desrosiers
    Planets visible to the naked eye

    From February 10 to 24, 2020

    Mercury is visible at dusk until mid-February: Look for the tiny planet very low in the west-southwest about 30 minutes after sunset. Mercury dims rapidly after February 15, while it falls back toward the glow of the setting sun. We lose sight of it in the following days. Mercury will be at inferior conjunction, between Earth and the Sun, on February 25.

    Venus is the dazzling Evening Star that shines in the southwest shortly after sunset and until it sets in the west around 9:30 p.m. During the evening of February 27, the thin crescent moon will hang 6 degrees to the left of Venus.

    Mars emerges above the southeast horizon shortly after 4:00 a.m. — almost 3 hours before sunrise. At the beginning of dawn, the Red Planet stands about 15 degrees high in the south-southeast. On February 18, at dawn, the thin crescent Moon hangs less than one degree to the upper right of the Red Planet. Later that morning, Mars undergoes a rare occultation when the moon passes in front of it and hides it from view: see the February Sky for details.

    Jupiter is visible at dawn, very low in the southeast, after 5:30 a.m. As the bright Giant Planet pulls away from the glare of the Sun, it rises earlier with each passing day and becomes easier to see in in a darker sky. At dawn on February 19, the thin crescent Moon hangs 4 degrees to the right of Jupiter.

    Saturn gradually reappears at dawn after mid-February: one hour before sunrise, look for the Ringed Planet very low in the southeast, to the lower left of bright Jupiter. As Saturn emerges from the glare of the Sun, it rises earlier with each passing day and becomes easier to pick out in a darker sky.

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