Set your alarm and wake up early on Sunday, July 19. About 45 minutes before sunrise, you’ll be able to see five planets and the crescent moon without using a telescope. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, as well as the moon, will all be visible.
“Find a spot with clear horizons in the east-northeast and the southwest,” recommends Dr. Jeffrey Hunt, an astronomy educator and former planetarium director, in a post on his site, When the Curves Line Up.
Hunt offers tips for finding each planet. Venus, he says, will “blaze in the eastern sky.” The thin crescent moon will be very low in the east-northeast part of the sky, and will only be about 1 percent illuminated. Mercury will be to the right of the moon, Mars will be about halfway up in the sky in the south-southeast, Jupiter will be just above the horizon in the southwest, and Saturn will be to the upper left of Jupiter.
Hunt also says you may want binoculars to aid in finding the moon, Mercury and Jupiter.
If you miss out, you’ll still be able to see the five planets in the sky for a few mornings after July 19, but you won’t also see the moon.
“On successive mornings, look 3-4 minutes earlier each day,” Hunt advises. “You may catch (the five planets) in the sky until about July 25.”
If you want more, you can also spot Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto in the sky between Venus and Jupiter, but you’ll need a telescope for those three. And as NASA points out, if you use your binoculars to see Jupiter, you may be able to see its four largest moons, Europa, Ganymede, Io, and Callisto.
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