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This Month: It’s a Planetary Party!

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This Month: It’s a Planetary Party!

For sky watchers in North America, April promises to be a spectacular month, with opportunities to view four of the five naked eye planets in our Solar System at the same time. Jupiter, Venus, Mars, and Saturn will be visible at sunset for most of the month. A fifth visible planet, Mercury, will be rising at dawn in the Northern Hemisphere, making it extremely difficult to view in the glare of the rising Sun. Here’s a brief look at how to find each of this month’s visible planets:

Venus – Along with Jupiter, Venus is currently one of the brightest objects in the sky, and one of the first to become visible at dusk. You can find it high in the western sky at nightfall.

Mars – The red planet reached opposition (it’s best viewing location) in March, and is still a sight to behold. It rises to the southeast at dusk this month in the constellation Leo. It is brighter than Leo’s brightest star, Regulus, and can be differentiated by its reddish hue.

Jupiter – Our Solar System’s largest planet will be sitting low on the western horizon this month, getting ready to dip out of view. It’s easy to pick out because it is the brightest object in its vicinity.

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Saturn – The ringed planet rises in the east near nightfall throughout the month, reaching opposition (it’s best viewing location) on April 15. Look for it near Spica, the brightest star in the constellation Virgo.

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