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Planets visible to the naked eye

  • Photo: Sophie Desrosiers

    From April 8 to 22, 2019

    Mercury is in the midst of a poor morning apparition. The tiny planet is located a few degrees to the lower left of Venus, but it is too low on the horizon and too faint to be easily visible in the glow of sunrise.

    Venus, the dazzling Morning Star, appears very low in the east at dawn. It emerges above the horizon less than an hour before sunrise; 30 minutes before sunrise, it stands only about 4 degrees high. On the morning of May 1, the thin lunar crescent lies about 14 degrees to the right of the Venus.

    Mars is still receding from Earth and slowly fading. Despite this, the Red Planet remains an easily identifiable object: it appears at dusk about 30 degrees high in the west, and sets in the west-northwest after 11:30 p.m. Don’t confuse it with Aldebaran, a few degrees to its left, a star whose colour is very similar to the Red Planet, but slightly brighter. Mars moves rapidly with respect to the background stars and constellations: use the nearby Pleiades and Hyades clusters as a reference. On the evening of April 8, the waxing crescent moon hangs 7 degrees below the Red Planet, with the two star clusters on either side.

    Jupiter shines brightly in the south-southeast at the end of the night and at dawn. The Giant Planet rises in the southeast around 12:30 a.m. and gradually climbs in the sky, culminating at dawn some 22 degrees above the southern horizon. On the morning of April 23, the waning gibbous Moon hangs less than 2 degrees to the upper right of Jupiter.

    Saturn is visible at the end of the night and at dawn. The Ringed Planet emerges in the southeast around 2:30 a.m.; by the time the horizon begins to take on some colours (about one hour before sunrise) we find Saturn some 20 degrees high in the southeast. On the morning of April 25, the waning gibbous Moon shines 3 degrees to the right of Saturn.

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