These late March 2014 mornings will present fine views of the moon and brightest planet, Venus, in the east before dawn. Around the world on the morning of March 26, 2014, the waning crescent moon rises first, followed by the planet Venus, and then the planet Mercury. (See sky chart below.) On the following morning, March 27, you’ll see a thinner waning crescent moon closer to Venus.
The innermost planet Mercury is in the same part of the sky. Will you see it? You might not, unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere or the tropical areas of the Northern Hemisphere. At northerly latitudes – like those in the US, Canada and northern Asia – Mercury sits low down in the glare of morning twilight. Given clear skies, Mercury – the innermost planet – should be readily visible to the naked eye at southerly latitudes, but it might be hard to catch even with binoculars at northerly latitudes. Still, give it a try. Mercury will be along a line between Venus and the moon, closer to the sunrise point.
The farther south you live, the sooner that Venus and Mercury rise before the sun. For instance, at mid-northern latitudes, Mercury rises about 45 minutes before the sun; in contrast, Mercury rises about two hours before the sun at mid-southern latitudes.
Bottom line: Wherever you may be worldwide, you’ll easily see the two brightest orbs of nighttime – the moon and planet Venus – in the east before dawn on March 26. They’ll be even closer on the morning of March 27. Mercury is up there, too, in the same part of the sky, but not easy to see from northerly latitudes.