Venus and Mercury appear near each other on mid-April. There is no conjunction as Mercury does not pass Venus. Mercury moves faster and, typically, its motion causes the two to pass each other. During this event, the two planets do not pass each other but they move within 5° of each other. This event is know as a quasi-conjunction.
Mercury is in a very unfavorable apparition to observe. It appears very low in the east at Civil Twilight, about 30 minutes before sunrise, when the sun is 6° below the horizon. During this appearance this speedy planet does not rise before Nautical Twilight – which occurs about an hour before sunrise; so Mercury visible in a very bright sky, near the horizon. At its greatest elongation, it is only 4° in altitude. Find a clear horizon and use a binocular. First locate Venus then look through your binocular to locate this elusive planet.
The Venus-Mercury gaps:
April 13: 4.5°
April 14: 4.4°
April 15: 4.4°
April 16: 4.3°
April 17: 4.3°
April 18: 4.3°
April 19: 4.4°
April 20: 4.5°
On these mornings, it’s possible to see four planets in the morning sky — Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn — although a binocular may be needed to locate Saturn. The Ringed Wonder is low in the southern sky, less than one-third of the way up in the sky. Jupiter is farther west, to the right of the south direction, at about the same height as Saturn above the horizon.
This morning, three days after the Venus-Saturn conjunction, the brilliant Morning Star Venus is 3.4 degrees to the left of Saturn. Watch the Venus-Saturn gap continue to grow during the next several mornings. Jupiter is about 26 degrees to the upper right of Saturn.
Brilliant Morning Star Venus shines from the southeast this morning. It passes Saturn in three mornings (February 18). This morning, Venus is 3.4 degrees to the upper right of Saturn. Jupiter is over 23 degrees to the upper right of Venus. Venus passed Jupiter about a month ago.
Brilliant Morning Star Venus shines from the southeast this morning. Jupiter is over 17 degrees to the upper left of Venus. Saturn, beginning to become easier to see is over 9 degrees to the lower left of Venus.
Venus is rapidly moving toward a conjunction with Saturn on February 18. Watch Venus close the gap and get closer each morning.
Bright Mars, shining in the west this evening, is moving through the dimmer stars of Pisces. On February 12 it passes the planet Uranus. This evening it is about 3 degrees to the lower right of the planet. Use binoculars to locate the planet as its brightness is at the limit of human vision. Magnify the image to see the planet.
Mars passes Uranus on February 12. At the beginning of the month, Mars is over 7 degrees to the lower right of the dimmer outer planet this evening. If you’ve never seen the planet Uranus, Mars provides a way to see it. Uranus appears as a dim bluish or greenish star.
The second brighter star in this image is Hamal, the brightest star in Aries.
Unless you live under dark skies, you’ll need a binocular or small telescope to see it. It is near the star Omicron Piscium, a dimmer star in the constellation Pisces. It is cataloged by the Greek letter Omicron (ο). (It might be necessary to download the image above and magnify it to see Omicron and Uranus. The planet appears in this image as it is a 10-second exposure.)
This article provides more details about the location of Uranus and the track that Mars follows beginning February 6. Happy planet chasing!
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