Planets visible to the naked eye
Here's a look at the planets that will be observable with the naked eye in the coming days. Follow these guidelines to find out where and when to look for them.
From December 11 to 25, 2023
Mercury is visible with difficulty at dusk until mid-December. With the help of binoculars, look for the tiny planet very low in the southwest, 30 minutes after sunset. Mercury passes between Earth and the Sun (inferior conjunction) on December 22.
Venus is the dazzling Morning Star that emerges above the eastern horizon three and a half hours before sunrise. At the start of civil dawn, Venus shines brightly some 23 degrees high in the southeast. On the morning of January 8, the thin waning crescent Moon hangs 7 degrees to the right of the Morning Star.
Mars is currently lost in the glare of the Sun and cannot be seen. The Red Planet passed behind the Sun (conjunction) on November 18 and will emerge at dawn in early 2024.
Jupiter shines like a beacon in the sky during the evening and the core hours of night. The bright (magnitude –2.7) Giant Planet appears above the east-southeast horizon at dusk, culminates 57 degrees high in the south around 8:30 p.m., and disappears in the west-northwest around 2:30 a.m. During the evening and night of December 21 to 22, the waxing gibbous Moon gradually approaches within 4 ½ degrees of Jupiter.
Saturn appears at dusk 32 degrees above the southern horizon, and sinks below the west-southwest horizon around 9 p.m. The waxing lunar crescent approaches within 2 ½ degrees from the Ringed Planet during the evening of December 17.