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Planets visible to the naked eye

  • Photo: Sophie Desrosiers
    Planets visible to the naked eye

    From April 19 to May 3, 2021

    Mercury passed through superior conjunction (behind the sun) on April 18 and will reappear in the evening sky a few days later. From late-April until about May 20, you’ll be able to spot the tiny planet 30 minutes after sunset, low in the west-northwest.

    Venus passed on the far side of the sun (superior conjunction) on March 26, and gradually reappears as the bright Evening Star, very low in the west-northwest, 30 minutes after sunset. Fainter Mercury is also visible a few degrees above Venus.

    Mars is receding from Earth, and although its brightness has decreased a lot since opposition last October, it’s still fairly bright. The Red Planet appears at dusk about 40 degrees high in the west, and more than 20 degrees to the left of bright star Capella. Mars sets in the northwest around 12:30 a.m. The thin crescent Moon comes within 1 ½ degrees of Mars on the evening of May 15.

    Jupiter is easily visible at the end of the night and at dawn: The Giant Planet emerges in the east-southeast about two hours before sunrise. At dawn, it shines 15 degrees above the southeast horizon. On the mornings of May 4 and 5, the waning crescent Moon hangs near Jupiter.

    Saturn is visible at the end of the night and at dawn. Look for Saturn very low in the east-southeast, about two and a half hours before sunrise. During dawn, Saturn shines some 18 degrees above the southeast horizon, about 15 degrees to the right of very bright Jupiter. On the morning of May 3, the last quarter Moon approaches within 7 degrees of Saturn.

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