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Young crescent moon, three planets after sunset October 6

The moon, Venus, Saturn and Mercury as they appear from North America  on October 6

Tonight for October 6, 2013

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The whisker-thin waxing crescent moon and the planet Mercury will be difficult to catch after sunset at mid-northern latitudes and farther north. But we show them as they appear at early dusk from North America anyway. As seen from mid-northern latitudes in Europe and Asia, the planets appear in about the same positions but the moon sits even lower in the glare of evening twilight. You’ll probably need binoculars, plus a clear sky and an unobstructed horizon for any chance of catching the moon or Mercury from northerly latitudes.

Setting times for the sun, moon and planets in your sky

It may be easier to spot the planet Saturn because it sets later than either the moon or Mercury. Even so, this planet – as seen from mid-northern latitudes – follows the sun beneath the horizon before it gets good and dark. Look low in the west-southwest – over the sunset point on the horizon – as dusk ebbs into darkness. Binoculars may also be helpful.

Given clear skies and an unobstructed horizon, it’ll be hard to miss the dazzling planet Venus in the southwest sky. This world ranks as the third-brightest celestial object to light up the heavens, after the sun and moon. But Venus still sets a short while after nightfall, so look for this brilliant beauty at dusk and early evening.

In the Southern Hemisphere, it'll be much easier to see the waxing crescent moon, plus the planets Mercury and Saturn because these worlds set much later after sunset at southerly latitudes.

In the Southern Hemisphere, it’ll be much easier to see the waxing crescent moon, plus the planets Mercury and Saturn because these worlds set much later after ssunset at southerly latitudes.

It’ll be much easier to catch the young moon and these three planets in the northern tropics or the Southern Hemisphere. For most of the world, Mercury sets first, followed by Saturn and then Venus. Mercury sets a good two hours after the sun at southern temperate latitudes. At mid-northern latitudes, in stark contrast, Mercury sets less than one hour after sunset.

What’s the youngest moon you can see?

At southern temperate latitudes, Mercury and Saturn set at nearly the same time. However, all these worlds set later after sunset at more southerly latitudes – and sooner after sunset at more northerly latitudes.

If you miss the young crescent moon tonight – from either the Northern or Southern Hemisphere – try after sunset tomorrow, as a larger waxing crescent moon appears higher up in the sky and sets later after sunset.