See Mercury and Venus in the predawn sky this week


This sky map shows where to see Mercury and Venus before sunrise on Nov. 12, 2020. (Image credit: SkySafari/Simulation Curriculum)

The two “inferior” planets are teaming up with the moon and one of the brightest stars in the sky to put on a lovely show in the predawn morning skies of Thursday and Friday (Nov. 12-13). Planets that move in orbits that are closer to the sun than Earth are “inferior” planets and there are only two, Mercury and Venus. 

Venus is, by far, the most brilliant planet and is also the easiest one to see. Mercury on the other hand, is the planet closest to the sun and as such its visibility is more fleeting, partly because it is often hidden in the bright solar glare and also because it usually appears at a rather low altitude relative to the horizon. But this month marks Mercury’s finest morning apparition in 2020 and combined with its proximity to Venus, the moon and a bright first-magnitude star, it will be relatively easy to pick out. 

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