Mercury and Saturn, moon and Jupiter

Mercury and Saturn are in conjunction on November 23, but hard to spot in the sunset glow. On the mornings of November 24 and 25, the moon appears near Jupiter before dawn.

Sky Chart moon Jupiter Mercury Saturn

Tonight – November 23, 2016 – after sunset, watch for Mercury, our solar system’s innermost planet, to meet up with Saturn, farthest planet easily visible to the unaided eye. Bring along binoculars, if you have them, for these worlds will be in conjunction in the glow of evening twilight. Meanwhile, before dawn on Thursday, the moon is sweeping past the planet Jupiter. More about that below.

The Mercury-Saturn conjunction will be especially challenging to view from northerly latitudes – such as those in the U.S. and Europe. From our latitudes, Mercury and Saturn lurk low in the southwest at sunset and follow the sun beneath the horizon less than an hour later. You’ll probably need binoculars for any chance of spotting them. Look first for the dazzling planet Venus, the brightest starlike object in the evening sky, as soon as the sky begins to darken (say, 15 to 45 minutes after sundown). Then look for Mercury and Saturn nearer the horizon, below Venus.

You’ll have a better chance of catching Mercury and Saturn beneath Venus in the Southern Hemisphere, where Mercury and Venus stay out longer after sunset. You may still want to bring along binoculars, though, for these two worlds still set before it gets good and dark, even at far southerly latitudes. Click here for an almanac, to find out when these planets set in your sky.

The conjunction of Mercury and Saturn will be much easier to view from the Southern Hemisphere, where these planets are higher up at unset and stay out longer after sundown.

The conjunction of Mercury and Saturn will be much easier to view from the Southern Hemisphere, where these planets are higher up at unset and stay out longer after sundown.

From almost everywhere worldwide, two of the four naked-eye evening planets – Mars and Venus – should be rather easy to see at nightfall and early evening. Venus, the the third brightest celestial object after the sun and moon, is hard to miss. From northerly latitudes, Mars shines to the upper left of Venus.

From the Southern Hemisphere, Mars is found more directly above Venus, the queen planet. Although the red planet Mars is nowhere as brilliant as Venus, Mars easily shines on par with the sky’s brightest stars.

At nightfall, look for the red planet Mars above Venus.

At nightfall, look for the red planet Mars above Venus. It’s above and to the left from Northern Hemisphere locations, and more directly above from the Southern Hemisphere.

Now here’s something we all can see, no matter where you live in the world. The king planet Jupiter is the sole naked-eye planet to shine in the morning sky at present. Simply get up before sunrise over the next several days to note that super-brilliant “star” close to the waning crescent moon on the sky’s dome. That’ll be Jupiter.

Jupiter is the fourth brightest celestial body after the sun, moon and Venus. But you can’t mistake it for anything else, since Venus is visible now only in the west after sunset.

The moon has been taking aim on Jupiter for the past several mornings, and it’s about to sweep past Jupiter before dawn. You can see them near each other on the morning of November 24 and again on November 25.

Read more about the moon and Jupiter on November 24 and 25

From around the world, the waning crescent moon and the king planet Jupiter will adorn the predawn and dawn sky. Look for them before sunrise November 24.

From around the world, the waning crescent moon and the king planet Jupiter are near each other in the predawn sky on November 24 and 25. This chart shows November 24, from the Americas. Read more.

Bottom line: Mercury and Saturn are in conjunction on November 23, 2016, but the twosome may be hard to spot in the glow of evening twilight. Meanwhile, on the mornings of November 24 and 25, the moon appears near Jupiter before dawn.

Bruce McClure