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See Venus And Mercury High In The Sky As They Stray Far From The Sun: What You Can See In The Night Sky This Week

Each Monday I pick out the northern hemisphere’s celestial highlights (mid-northern latitudes) for the week ahead, but be sure to check my main feed for more in-depth articles on stargazing, astronomy, eclipses and more. 

What To Watch For In The Night Sky This Week: October 25-31, 2021

Have you ever seen the planet Mercury? Venus, of course, is the brightest of all the planets, and you will no doubt have noticed it just after sunset in the recent weeks and months shining brightly in the west.

Though Venus rarely gets particularly high in the post-sunset night sky, that goes double for the little planet Mercury, which is very rarely visible, though this week it reaches its highest positioning the pre-dawn morning sky.

Their extreme positions this week make it one of the best of the year for seeing the two inner planets. 

Monday, October 25, 2021: Mercury is well-placed 

Today Mercury reaches its highest point in morning sky, something astronomers call its “greatest elongation west” since it appears to be as far from the Sun as it gets.

Look due east, directly under the constellation of Leo, about 30 minutes before sunrise—it will be visible in a line level with bright star Arcturus. Don’t get them mixed up! You may need binoculars. 


Wednesday, October 27, 2021: Moon and Pollux

Tonight you can see, in the east-northeastern night sky around midnight, a 56%-lit waning Moon rising while just 2.6° from Pollux, the brightest star in the constellation of Gemini.

About 34 light-years from the Sun, Pollux is the closest giant star to our Sun. 

Thursday, October 28, 2021: Last Quarter Moon close to the Beehive Cluster

At 20:05 Universal Time today our satellite will reach its Last Quarter phase. It means that the Moon now rises after midnight, clearing the way for 10 successive nights of dark, moonless skies.

If you stay up late you’ll see it rising in the east-northeastern night sky while close to the famous “Beehive Cluster” of glittering stars in the constellation of Cancer. 

Friday, October 29, 2021: Venus is well-placed and at ‘dichotomy’

Now it’s the turn of Venus to reach its “greatest elongation east” as it appears to reach 47º from the Sun as seen from Earth. You’ll be able to see it shining very brightly in the southwestern night sky right after sunset, and for about an hour afterwards. 

Today is also when Venus reaches its dichotomy—it’s half-lit phase—so it should look incredible in a small telescope. Since they’re inner planets, Venus and Mercury never appear “full.”

Saturday, October 30, 2021: Crescent Moon and Regulus

Rising in the pre-dawn hours in the east-northeastern night sky will be a 25%-lit waning crescent Moon about 5° from Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation of Leo.

Sunday, October 31, 2021: SpaceX launches four astronauts to the Space Station

SpaceX and NASA is targeting 2:21 a.m. ET today for the launch from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, of its Crew-3 mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

Flying in a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft “Endurance,” NASA astronauts Raja Chari, mission commander, Tom Marshburn, pilot, and Kayla Barron, mission specialist, as well as European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer, mission specialist, will arrive on Monday, November 1, 2021.

Times and dates given apply to mid-northern latitudes. For the most accurate location-specific information consult online planetariums like Stellarium and The Sky Live. Check planet-rise/planet-setsunrise/sunset and moonrise/moonset times for where you are.

Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes. 

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