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Planet Viewing


The Sun’s closest planet is visible for a few days at a time just before sunrise or just after sunset. Mercury is at its best this year in the dawn sky in early January and late August, and in the evening sky in the middle of March.


The brilliant morning or evening star starts 2018 lost from sight as it passes behind the Sun. It returns to view in February as the Evening Star. It will remain in view in the evening until late October, when it will pass between Earth and Sun. It will return to view as the Morning Star a few days later, and will remain in the morning sky through the end of the year.


The Red Planet shines brightest this year in July, when it will rank as the third-brightest object in the night sky, briefly surpassing Jupiter.


The largest planet in the solar system, and usually the brightest object in the night sky after the Moon and Venus, shines at its best in early May, when it is brightest and is in the sky all night.


The ringed planet shines brightest this year in late June and early July, as it moves through Sagittarius.


The seventh planet is at its brightest in late October, when it barely reaches naked-eye visibility. Most skywatchers will need binoculars or a telescope to spot it, however.