See Mercury in the Eastern Sky

Mercury in the pre-dawn sky in early July 2015. The planet is brighter than any star in the area, and lies near the Pleiades and Hyades star clusters.

Mercury in the pre-dawn sky in early July 2015. The planet is brighter than any star in the area, and lies near the Pleiades and Hyades star clusters.

Early risers can spot the planet Mercury low on the eastern horizon before sunrise in early July 2015. The planet shines at an impressive magnitude -1.5, brighter than any star, but it’s low on the horizon and somewhat diminished by the brightening predawn sky. The bright orange-giant star Aldebaran is nearby Mercury, as are the Hyades and Pleiades star clusters. A pair of binoculars will help pull these stars out of the sky glow.

Mercury moves back towards the horizon for most of July and gets even harder to see. If you’re up for a challenge, have a look for the planet Mars, which will be much fainter than Mercury, just 0.1º to the north on July 16. You will need binoculars or a small scope and a clear view down to the eastern horizon to see these two small worlds.

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