Watching the Skies: Parade of planets

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — If you’re up before sunrise this week, you’ll be treated to a view of a “parade of planets.” The moon will move past Jupiter and Mars, then Saturn and finally, Mercury.

For best viewing, you’ll want to head outside 1 hour to 1.5 hours before sunrise and look to the east-southeast.

Early Tuesday morning, the waning crescent moon will be visible with the four planets down and to the left. As the sky begins to brighten, Mercury will rise and both Saturn and Mars will begin to fade from view. Both the Moon and Jupiter will remain visible as it gets lighter.

By Wednesday morning, the moon will be closest to Jupiter and Mars. Jupiter is currently the brightest morning planet and it will be easy to pick out. Mars will be much dimmer in comparison.

The moon will continue to get thinner as the week goes on. On Thursday morning, the waning crescent moon will be closest to Saturn. Mars and Jupiter will still be visible. Saturn will be rather faint, and viewing will be best with a telescope.

By Friday morning, the moon will be very thin. The light side of the moon will point toward Mercury. Mercury is a bit difficult to see at our latitude, so binoculars or a telescope may help.

Astronomical spring officially begins on Thursday at 11:59 PM. The spring equinox occurs when the Sun crosses over the celestial equator. Equinox translates to “equal night,” implying that night and day are of equal length on the equinox. This is nearly true, but not quite – we have just over 12 hours of daylight on the spring equinox in West Michigan, and just under 12 hours of night.

The full moon was last week, and Richard Riddering captured the beautiful shot below. The new moon will be next week Tuesday.

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