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Planets visible to the naked eye

  • Photo: Sophie Desrosiers
    Planets visible to the naked eye

    From January 11 to 25, 2021

    Mercury returns to the evening sky for a very good apparition from January 10 to 31: Look for Mercury a few degrees above the southwest horizon, 30 to 45 minutes after sunset.

    Venus is the bright Morning Star that now shines lower and lower in the southeast at dawn. The gap between Venus and the Sun is decreasing daily: the planet emerges after 6:45 a.m. and barely reaches 5 degrees above the horizon before sunrise. Venus vanishes in the Sun’s glare during the last week of January. On the morning of January 11, the thin, waning crescent Moon hangs 4 degrees to the right of Venus.

    Mars is receding from Earth, but it’s still remarkably bright. The Red Planet appears at dusk about 55 degrees high in the south-southeast, culminates about 60 degrees high in the south around 6:00 p.m., and sets in the west after 1:00 a.m. During the evening of January 20, the first quarter Moon moves within 6 degrees below Mars. At dusk on the following day, January 20, the waxing gibbous Moon shines 7 ½ degrees to the lower left of the Red Planet.

    Jupiter appears lower and lower in the southwest during evening twilight. The Giant Planet is sinking in the glare of the sun. The Ringed Planet passes behind the Sun (conjunction) on January 28 and will reappear at dawn in late-February. On January 11, Mercury comes within 1½ degrees of Jupiter.

    Saturn is now too close to the Sun and we lose sight of it in our star’s glare. The Ringed Planet passes behind the Sun (conjunction) on January 23 and will reappear at dawn after mid-February.

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