A Darker View

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Conjunctions and Occulations

Tomorrow morning, July 25th, will see a pretty display of planets low in the dawn. A thin crescent Moon, only 2% illuminated, will join both Mercury and Venus just before sunrise. The trio will be quite low, the Moon rising last, at 04:59, just one hour before the Sun. Mercury will be 5.5° north of the Moon shining at -1 magnitude. Venus will be highest, 9° above, shining brightly at -3.9 magnitude.

Despite the glow of dawn these three will be bright enough to be seen quite clearly against the glow, it should be a spectacular dawn.

Tomorrow morning, July 24th, will see a brilliant Venus paired with a crescent Moon. Look for the pair to rise about 04:06HST to be 23° above the horizon at sunrise. A 5% illuminated Moon will be a nice match for Venus shining brilliantly at -3.9 magnitude. Separation will be just over 4.5&deg.

Mercury has not quite slipped away and will still be visible 8° below Venus, rising about 4:44HST at 15° ahead of the Sun.

As Mercury approaches maximum elongation on July 12th it is also approaching Venus in the sky. The little planet will reach elongation and turn to dive back into the dawn before properly rendezvousing with Venus. The minimum separation will be about 6° on the morning of July 16th.

While the pair will remain well separated, it will still be a pretty pairing in the dawn that will last for over a week. Simply look below the brilliant Venus for Mercury shining near 0 magnitude, it will be quite easy to spot in the glow of dawn.

This evening a very thin crescent Moon will meet Jupiter low in the sunset glow. Only 3.4% illuminated the Moon will be 6° west of a bright Jupiter. About 16° above the horizon at sunset, the Moon will set at 20:14HST with Jupiter setting a few minutes later at 20:20HST. The two should create a striking pair in the rosy glow of dusk.

Tomorrow morning, June 24th, will see a brilliant Venus paired with a crescent Moon. Look for the pair to rise about 03:45HST to be 25° above the horizon at sunrise. A 7% illuminated Moon will be a nice match for Venus shining brilliantly at -3.9 magnitude. Separation will be just over 2.5&deg.

There will be a close approach of the Moon and Saturn tonight and tomorrow. At sunset on the 9th the pair will be separated by less than 7° and found well up in the eastern sky. As the night progresses the pair will slowly close the gap. As the pair sets around 03:30 the morning of the 10th, the separation will have been reduced to about 4°. As the two rise on the evening of the 10th they will have passed and the separation will be increasing. At sunset the pair will be 7° apart.

Viewers on the other side of our planet will be able to observe the closest approach, much less than a degree for many, an occultation if you happen to be in the right place. Sky watchers in Capetown, South Africa will see the planet disappear behind the limb of the Moon for about an hour around 19:11UT.

This evening the Moon and Jupiter will be close. The two will be visible in the sky throughout the day becoming a striking pair as the sky grows dark. The Moon will be 11% illuminated and about 6° from the bright planet at sunset.

Mercury should be visible 18° below Jupiter, a 1.3 magnitude object lower in the sunset glow.

Tomorrow morning, May 25th, will see a brilliant Venus paired with a crescent Moon. Look for the pair to rise about 03:30HST to be 30° above the horizon at sunrise. A 10% illuminated Moon will be a nice match for Venus shining brilliantly at -4.0 magnitude. Separation will be just over 2&deg.

Over the next few days Venus will swing quite close to Uranus. Today the pair is separated by 2°48′. This will decrease to 1°15′ on the 15th for the closest approach.

Much like the Venus and Neptune pair we saw last month, the pair is quite a mismatch… Uranus is a mere 5.1 magnitude while Venus is a brilliant -4.0. There will be two 4th magnitude stars to the north of the pair, δPsc and εPsc, but these will be about 4° away from Venus and should be easy to distinguish. Look for Neptune betwixt Venus and the stars.

Tonight the planet Saturn will be quite close to the Moon. The pair will rise about 18:20 HST and be well up in the east in the late evening. Look for 0.1 magnitude object just north of the Moon, there are no nearby stars bright enough to confuse for the planet. The Moon is full at 09:16HST tomorrow, just short of full for tonight’s pairing.

Observers in the islands will see the Moon pass less than 1° south of the planet during the early morning hours of the 14th. Observers in the southern hemisphere will be able to view an occultation if at the correct latitude, check a planetarium program for the view from your location.