This weekend includes some optimal viewing I thought I would share.
This morning, I woke early and went out onto the roof at about 6 am. The sun rises in Austin today at 6:38 am, so dawn had already begun. Mars shined so bright in the southwest sky, I felt as if I could reach out and touch it. I don’t ever remember seeing Mars as bright as it is right now, although, I read, it has been.
Two nights ago, I went out after 10 pm to see Mars rise. It was conspicuous, easy to find, but not as bright on the hazy horizon as this morning.
Tonight Mars rises at 9:42 pm CDT as viewed in Austin. Tomorrow night, it rises at 9:38 pm. Because Mars is retrograde, it is rising 4 minutes earlier each day. By 7/27, it will rise at sunset.
Optimal viewing of Mars will vary depending on where you are, as will rising/setting times.
Last night, when I was on the roof, I did my nightly check on the other four. Mercury will start dropping out of view soon. I think we are past peek viewing of Mercury, however, tonight, Mercury will be easiest to find because the crescent moon will be less than 2 degrees above Mercury at 9 pm CDT (in Austin).
In Austin, the sun sets tonight at 8:34 pm. Mercury sets at 10:00 pm and the moon sets at 10:12 pm. Depending on your view of the western horizon, optimal viewing will be between 9 and 10 pm. For anyone not in Central Texas, adjust your viewing time to your local sunset time.
Sunday night, the moon will be less than 2 degrees from Venus. This display will be bright, beautiful, and easy to see. Venus is so much brighter than Mercury, it cannot be missed. Venus and the moon can be seen during the day, so it doesn’t need to get that dark for them to pop. And since both Venus and the Moon will be about 43 degrees from the sun, they will be high above the horizon at sunset. I highly recommend getting out after sunset to view this. It is my favorite sight in the sky!
The following EarthSky.org image and article give further details:
Jupiter and Saturn continue to rise earlier each night putting them fairly high in the sky by 9 pm. If you’re out for the above display, you’ll easily find Jupiter (S), but Saturn (SE) will be visible if you know where to look.
If I can get some good pictures, I’ll post them here.