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Mars and Jupiter Tonight, December 13, 2012

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Mars shines from evening twilight as seen this evening from the Chicago area. (Click the image to see it larger.)  The Red Planet is difficult to see as it fades into bright twilight during the next four months. After Mars passes behind the sun (conjunction), it reappears in the morning sky next summer.

On December 15, the crescent moon appears above Mars. (See our monthly update for more details) Binoculars should help find the planet.

Meanwhile, Jupiter appears in the eastern sky during evening twilight. (Click the image to see it larger.)  Aldebaran, the brightest star in Taurus, appears nearby. The Pleiades and Hyades  star clusters are clearly visible in this image and visible to the unaided eye as well.

Jupiter rises in the eastern sky, moves higher in the sky during the evening hours. Around midnight, the planet appears high in the southern sky. During the predawn hours, Jupiter moves lower in the western sky, appearing low in the northwestern sky near sunrise.

With these observations and Venus, Mercury and Saturn this morning, that makes 5 planets visible on this date.

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