Early risers have gotten all the best of the skywatching over the last few months. Several bright planets have been congregating before and during dawn, with the Moon periodically checking in on them. And it does so again for the next couple of days. The action gives us two pairs of bright solar-system worlds: the Moon and Venus, and Jupiter and Mars.
Jupiter and Mars rise first. They’re in view by a couple of hours before sunrise, low in the east. Jupiter is the brighter of the two planets. In fact, it’s the third-brightest object in the night sky — only the Moon and Venus outshine it.
Mars will stand to the right of Jupiter tomorrow. It’s only a fraction as bright as Jupiter, although still one of the brighter points of light in the night sky. And it shows a distinctively orange glow, compared to more of a cream color for Jupiter.
Tomorrow, Mars and Jupiter will be separated by a couple of degrees — the width of your finger held at arm’s length. But the planets will scoot closer together over the following few mornings. They’ll be at their closest on Sunday, when they’ll appear to almost touch each other. After that, they’ll slowly move apart.
The Moon and Venus rise a little later, and there’s a bigger gap between them. Even so, they’ll make a spectacular duo. And they’ll be a little closer together on Friday morning, with Venus to the upper right of the crescent Moon — a brilliant pairing in the dawn sky.
Script by Damond Benningfield