Skywatch: Planets abound this week

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The solar system’s two innermost planets continue to dazzle stargazers this week. On Sunday evening, the young moon will sit between the two making the show that much better. Venus and Mercury will shine brightly in the western sky after sunset with a waxing crescent moon nearby. Above is how the three will look on Sunday night but, if you miss that, the moon will be a little higher and left of the pair Monday evening.

The First Quarter Moon arrives on Thursday afternoon at 3:52 p.m. That means that the first few evenings this week will see less light pollution, so you can expect a starry sky early in the week. The half-moon will be tough to miss on Thursday night, moonset is at 1:22 a.m. Friday morning.

You can use the moon to help you locate Jupiter on Friday night. It’ll sit just above and left of the largest planet in the southern sky at nightfall. Just off to your left, you’ll see what appears to be a reddish star. Not that’s not Mars; it’s Antares, the brightest star in the constellation of Scorpio. This is a red supergiant that would stretch to somewhere between Mars and Jupiter if it was at the heart of our solar system. The moon will be between the two on Saturday night, and above is how you’ll find the three on Friday night. Happy hunting!