The three, Moon, Venus, and Regulus, all fit comfortably within a binocular field of view.
On Thursday July 12th Mercury, the innermost planet, will reach its orbital position known as greatest eastern elongation. At that moment Mercury, the Sun, and the Earth, would be arranged in something close to approximating a right angle as this graphic shows.
From our perspective the orbits of Mercury and Venus appear to move from one side of the Sun to the other – from superior conjunction, behind the Sun, out to the left (east) from the Sun to eastern elongation, then reverse and move westward through (inferior conjunction) between the Earth and the Sun to western elongation. From there the inner planet moves eastward going behind the Sun (superior conjunction) and eventually reappearing on the eastern side of the Sun for an eastern elongation. Repeat over and over – do not stop!
Currently Mercury is visible over the western horizon at sunset local time. Joining Mercury are the planets Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn. Mars rises about an hour after Mercury sets.
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Monday evening July 9th the inner planet Venus will be within about 1o from the heart of Leo the Lion, the star Regulus. Through binoculars or with a camera the close conjunction should prove to be worth taking a look. Joining Venus to the west is the other inner planet, Mercury, and to the east are the planets Jupiter and Saturn.
Monday evening June 25th the planet Mercury will be about 5o from Pollux, one of the Gemini Twins stars. They will be low over the western horizon following sunset but with a clear horizon should be visible.
Also, after a couple of hours later turn toward the southeast to see the 12-day old waxing gibbous Moon rising within about 8-9o from the reddish star Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion. Further east is one of the ringed planets, Saturn, and the ‘Red Planet’ Mars.
Over the next several days (evenings) both inner planets, Mercury and Venus, are moving along their respective orbits approaching each planet’s eastern elongation. From the animated graphic you can see that the stars in the background, like the two ‘Twin Stars’ Pollux and Castor, are also moving but toward the western horizon. This is a regular motion of the stars caused by the Earth’s own orbit, revolution, around the Sun. As the Earth revolves the stars appear to move westward – a real motion not to be confused with the apparent motion of stars toward the west as the Earth rotates.
On the evening of June 25th Mercury will pass within about 5-6o from the star Pollux.
Our Moon reaches perigee, (closest distance from Earth), for this orbit on Thursday June 14th. At that time the Moon will be at a distance of 28.18 Earth diameters (359,500 km or 223,383 miles) from the Earth.
Does our Moon actually go around the Earth as this graphic shows? From our perspective on the Earth the Moon appears to circle around the Earth. However, in reality, the Moon orbits the Sun together with the Earth*
Thursday evening May 14th, shortly after sunset local time (8:26 CDT), look toward the western horizon for a conjunction between a thin 1.25-day young waxing crescent Moon and the innermost planet Mercury. The two will be about 2-3o apart but very low over the western horizon.
Read this very informative article about the Earth-Moon system and their orbital motions, written by Joe Hanson. “Do We Orbit the Moon?”
Thursday evening June 14th the thin 1.25-day young waxing crescent Moon will be about 2-3o from the innermost planet Mercury as the two are setting about an hour after sunset local time.
As the graphic shows both will be low over the horizon before the sky is dark so this may be an interesting challenge to see either one or both. On the other hand further east, higher above the horizon, and very bright appearing is the other inner planet, Venus.