Early risers in for a predawn planetary treat

Science

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — It will be a quiet week of astronomical events for the night owls, but for those who are typically out and about before sunrise, make sure to look up. There are a few neat things to keep your eyes open for.

The waning moon will pass by the three bright morning planets this week. Look for the moon to pass by Saturn, Venus, and Jupiter on Wednesday.

It may be difficult to spot the planets with the glow that precedes the sunrise. Binoculars will help. To see the trio of planets by the moon, look to the east about half an hour before sunrise. They will be low on the horizon, so an unobstructed view of the horizon will be important.

Venus is the brightest of the three planets, followed by Jupiter and then Saturn. Venus is sinking lower on the horizon each day and will soon be lost in the morning twilight completely. Conversely, Saturn and Jupiter are rising higher each day.

After the moon has passed by the three planets, a conjunction of two planets will take place. Venus and Jupiter will be in conjunction on February 11, meaning they will be paired up very closely in the morning sky.

Again, look to the east about half an hour before sunrise to try and spot the two, and consider using binoculars since they may be hard to find in the first light of day. Venus and Jupiter are the third- and fourth-brightest celestial objects in the sky behind the sun and the moon, which may make finding them a little easier.

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