More Moon and Planets

StarDate: August 3, 2013

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The first blush of morning twilight brings more than just a splash of color to the sky tomorrow. It also brings a beautiful grouping of the crescent Moon and three planets.

The brightest of the planets is Jupiter, which stands almost directly above the Moon. It outshines everything else in the sky at that hour except the Moon, so you can’t miss it.

Mars stands close to the upper left of the Moon. It’s not especially bright right now, but its steady orange color will help you pick it out. And Mercury is to the lower left of the Moon. It’s a good bit brighter than Mars right now, although it’s so low in the sky that you need a clear horizon to find it.

This is actually one of the best times all year to see Mercury. It’s the closest planet to the Sun, so it never wanders far from the Sun in our sky. At best, it’s visible for a little while before sunrise or after sunset.

Mercury was farthest from the Sun for its current morning appearance just a few days ago. It’s beginning to drop back toward the Sun, so it’ll disappear in the Sun’s glare in a few days. But it’s also getting brighter as it does so. In fact, it’ll be more than twice as bright tomorrow as it was just a week ago.

The Moon is also dropping toward the Sun, but much more quickly than Mercury is. In fact, our satellite world will stand to the lower right of Mercury on Monday morning, pointing the way toward this bright little world.

We’ll talk about another hot planet tomorrow.

 

Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2013

For more skywatching tips, astronomy news, and much more, read StarDate magazine.

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