Keep your eyes to the sky this weekend, because the SouthCoast will be able to see some astronomical stuff.

Dr. Jeffrey Hunt, experienced astronomy educator and editor of the website “When the Curves Line Up,” gave a hint in one of his latest articles that five planets and a crescent moon will be visible at the same time to the naked eye just before sunrise on Sunday, July 19. Here’s everything you need to know.

Set your alarm nice and early on Sunday (45 minutes before sunrise, to be exact) so you can see Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and the crescent moon congregated in the east-northeastern sky. Dr. Hunt recommends finding a spot with clear horizons, and binoculars may help to find the moon, Mercury, and Jupiter.

Dr. Hunt writes:

  • "Brilliant Venus blazes in the eastern sky. The star Aldebaran is nearby.
  • The very thin 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.
  • Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are also in the sky between Venus and Jupiter. A telescope is needed to see that trio of planets."

Some of the planets will be visible until August, adding a sense of wonder to an already beautiful night sky.

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