See the moon and 5 planets – Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn before sunrise on July 19, 2020.
Forty-five minutes before sunrise, the crescent moon and five planets are visible curved across the morning sky on July 19, 2020. Find a spot with clear horizons in the east-northeast and the southwest. A binocular may help finding the moon, Mercury, and Jupiter.
Here’s what to look for:
- Brilliant Venus blazes in the eastern sky. The star Aldebaran is nearby.
- The crescent moon, 28.2 days past the New Moon phase and only 1% illuminated, is very low in the east-northeast. This is where the binocular might help.
- Mercury is to the right of the moon, about 5°. Make a fist and stretch your arm. Five degrees is about the distance from your thumb knuckle to your pointer finger knuckle. A binocular will help here as well. Can you see Mercury without the binocular once you find it?
- Bright Mars, not as brilliant as Venus is the “star” that’s about halfway up in the sky in the south-southeast.
- Jupiter – brighter than Mars, but low in the sky – is just above the horizon in the southwest.
- Saturn, dimmer than Jupiter, is about 7° to the upper left of the Giant Planet. Both appear to our eyes as “stars.” Their separation is a little more than the knuckle to pointer distance described above. Don’t confuse Saturn with the star Fomalhaut, farther south, but at about the same altitude as Saturn.
Five planets and the crescent moon are in the sky at one time! During the next few mornings five planets are visible, but without the moon. Additionally, Jupiter is quickly leaving the sky. So on successive mornings, look 3-4 minutes earlier each day. You may catch them in the sky until about July 25.
Jupiter and Saturn are headed toward their Great Conjunction on December 21, 2020. Look for them low in the southeast during the early evening hours of July and August 2020.