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Planets visible to the naked eye

  • Photo: Sophie Desrosiers
    Planets visible to the naked eye

    From May 18 to June 1st, 2020

    Mercury is presently in the middle of a favourable evening apparition. Look for the tiny planet low on the west-northwest horizon, 30 minutes after sunset: It appears like a tiny dot of light against the colours of sunset. On May 21 and 22, Venus and Mercury shine less than 1 ½ degrees apart. On May 24, the thin crescent moon hangs 6 degrees to the upper left of Mercury.

    Venus is the dazzling Evening Star that shines in the west-northwest from sundown until it disappears below the horizon. After sunset, Venus appears lower and lower with each passing day as the separation between the planet and the sun decreases; we lose sight of it in the glare of sunset sometime during the last evenings of May. During the evenings of May 21 and 22, Venus and Mercury appear less than 1 ½ degrees apart.

    Mars emerges above the east-southeast horizon after 2:30 a.m. At dawn, the Red Planet stands almost 25 degrees high in the southeast. Mars moves rapidly with respect to the background stars. The Red Planet is moving away from Saturn and Jupiter (both to its right): Watch as the gap between them increases from day to day. On June 13, at the end of the night and at dawn, the last quarter Moon shines 4 degrees to the lower left of Mars.

    Jupiter is visible low in the southeast after 1:00 a.m. At dawn, the bright Giant Planet culminates about 23 degrees high in the south. Note the presence of Saturn, a few degrees to its lower left. On the morning of June 9, the waning gibbous Moon drawn a wide triangle with Saturn (above) and Jupiter (a bit farther to the right).

    Saturn is visible low in the southeast after 1:00 a.m., a few degrees to the lower left of bright Jupiter. At dawn, Saturn culminates about 24 degrees high in the south, just to the left of Jupiter. On the morning of June 9, the waning gibbous Moon drawn a wide triangle with Saturn (above) and Jupiter (a bit farther to the right).

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