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Planets visible to the naked eye

  • Photo: Sophie Desrosiers
    Planets visible to the naked eye

    From September 21 to October 5, 2020

    Mercury is presently undergoing a very poor apparition in the evening sky. The tiny planet is visible with great difficulty just above the west-southwest horizon, 20 minutes after sunset; a pair of binoculars, a clear horizon and perfect weather conditions are all essential to succeed in this very challenging observation.

    Venus is the dazzling Morning Star that shines brightly in the east after 3:30 a.m. and until sunrise, reaching nearly 35 degrees above the horizon at dawn. On the mornings of October 2 and 3, Venus will be about half a degree from Regulus, the alpha star of Leo the Lion. On the morning of October 14, the thin, waning lunar crescent hangs about 6 degrees to the lower left of Venus.

    Mars, now very bright, emerges above the eastern horizon after 8:00 p.m. Around 2:00 a.m., the Red Planet culminates over 50 degrees high in the south. During the evening and night of October 2 to 3, the waning gibbous Moon, just past full, glides just one degree below Mars.

    Jupiter appears above the south-southeast horizon during evening twilight and culminates around 7:30 p.m. some 22 degrees high in the south. The bright Giant Planet sets in the southwest after 11:30 p.m. Note the presence of Saturn, a few degrees to its left. On the evening of September 24, the waxing gibbous Moon passes 3 degrees below Jupiter; the next evening, September 25, the Moon shines 3 ½ degrees from Saturn and draws a long triangle with Jupiter farther to the right.

    Saturn appears above the south-southeast horizon during evening twilight, a few degrees to the left of bright Jupiter. The Ringed Planet culminates about 23 degrees high in the south around 8:00 p.m. and sets in the southwest after midnight. During the evening of September 25, the Moon shines 3 ½ degrees from Saturn and draws a long triangle with Jupiter farther to the right.

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