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Every planet in our Solar System is visible this month

Every planet in our Solar System will be visible in the sky this month, and you can observe most of them without binoculars or a telescope. 

Venus and Mercury can be viewed just before dawn, while Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars will be brightest in the evening sky. Using a telescope, you can spot Uranus and Neptune during the evening as well.

Jupiter and Saturn will appear to have a close encounter on the sky’s dome, known as a great conjunction, on December 21, 2020. According to EarthSky, great conjunctions of these two worlds occur every 20 years, but this year Jupiter and Saturn will appear closer together than they have since 1623. 

Up until the winter solstice on December 21st, the two planets will be visible every evening just after sunset in the southwestern sky. Use a telescope to catch a glimpse of Saturn’s rings, which are tilted toward the Earth this year, and to view Jupiter’s major moons. While Saturn shines as bright as some stars, Jupiter shines 12 times brighter than Saturn. 

In the eastern half of the sky, Mars will shine the brightest. Even though Mars is fading from sight compared to its close approach to Earth in October, it will still appear unusually large throughout November.

Venus will rise a couple of hours before sunset this month, and will look just like a brilliant morning star. Venus is the brightest celestial object that can be seen at night besides the Moon. Before daybreak on November 11th, 12th, and 13th, look for the waning crescent moon to line up with Venus and Mercury in the eastern sky just before daybreak. 

To find Mercury, just look close to the horizon below Venus, which is 70 times brighter than Mercury. According to EarthSky, Mercury can be seen most clearly about an hour before sunrise. The planet will gradually move higher in the sky throughout the month. 

On a dark night, about 9 hours after sunset, you may be able to catch a glimpse of Uranus with the naked eye. Neptune will be much harder to spot, and will require a very dark sky and binoculars or a telescope. 

Finally, be sure to look out for the South Taurids meteor shower that is expected to peak on the night of November 4th, as well as the North Taurids, which are expected to peak one week later on November 11th.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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