Monday morning: How to spot Venus, Mercury in the pre-dawn sky
By Brian Lada, AccuWeather meteorologist and staff writer
April 14, 2019, 8:51:37 AM EDT
The planets will align in the pre-dawn sky this week, treating early risers with great views of several planets, weather permitting.
Mercury and Venus will be shining right next to each other in the eastern sky right before dawn on Monday morning. Both will climb above the horizon by 6 a.m. local time; however, Mercury may be difficult to spot if the eastern horizon is obstructed by trees or buildings.
Venus is one of the easiest planets to spot in the night sky as it is usually brighter than any other planets or stars. On the other hand, Mercury is elusive. It is the dimmest of the planets that are visible with the unaided eye and is often lost in the light due to its close proximity to the sun.
Mid-April will be one of the few opportunities this year where Mercury will be far enough away from the Sun where it will be visible. Stargazers will be able to find it with ease due to its close proximity to Venus.
Neptune will also be in the sky just above and to the right of Venus. However, despite being four times larger than the Earth, its distance from the Sun makes it too dim to see with the help of a telescope.
Onlookers peering through the eyepiece of a telescope can use Mercury and Venus to help find Neptune among the sea of stars. Simply imagine a line that extends from Mercury through Venus and it will point you in the direction of Neptune.
Stargazers across the southern United States will have the best viewing conditions for the pre-dawn show on Monday with mainly clear skies in the forecast following the severe weather outbreak from this weekend. However, high clouds could interfere with some onlookers in the Southwest.
A large storm spinning over the Northeast will obscure the planetary alignment across the region and back across the central Great Lakes. Disruptive clouds are also lined up for much of the northern Plains and West.
Folks that miss out on seeing the planets on Monday morning can still catch the planets throughout much of the balance of April, although Mercury, Venus and Neptune will appear in slightly different positions each morning.
Early risers should also keep an eye to the southern sky as Saturn and Jupiter will rise during the second half of the night.
These are easy to spot with the unaided eye, but a telescope or good pair of binoculars will reveal the famous rings of Saturn and Jupiter’s largest moons.
These two planets will be shining alongside the Milky Way, but the glow of the galaxy will not be visible in areas near city lights. Nearly 80% of Americans are not able to see the Milky Way from their backyard due to the far-reaches of light pollution.
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