SKY WATCH

 

Keep an eye on the predawn sky throughout January as currently four planets — Venus, Saturn, Mars, and Jupiter — are visible. On Wednesday, Jan. 20, Mercury will join the crowd and the five bright planets will be visible simultaneously for the first time since 2005.

Venus is always easy to spot, being the third-brightest celestial body to light up the heavens. Only the sun and moon outshine Venus. 

To help with identifying the planets, here they are in outward order from the sun: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn.

This month’s planet parade is custom-designed for the morning person and may be viewed without optical aid. From around the world, Jupiter rises in the east at late evening; Mars rises next, an hour or two after midnight; and then Venus and Saturn climb up above the southeast horizon pretty much concurrently about two-and-a-half hours before sunrise. 

Mercury is the late arrival in this planet party for the Northern Hemisphere. Mercury will pass in between the Earth and sun on January 14, meaning it will transition over to the morning sky, becoming visible to Earthlings right around January 20 and should remain so until about February 20.

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