See the moon, Mercury and Venus in the night sky Friday (July 24).
Credit: Starry Night software
Mercury and Venus will star in an early morning meet-up with the moon Friday (July 24).
Both planets can be seen low in the east-northeast roughly 45 minutes before sunrise. Venus, a dazzling morning "star," rises at the first light of dawn and shines low in the east-northeast as dawn brightens.
Early Friday morning a thin and low lunar crescent will sit about 4-degrees below and to the right of Mercury. Mercury appears only about one twelfth as bright as Venus, and yet shining at magnitude -1 it ranks second only to Sirius in terms of brightness.
To enhance your chances of seeing Mercury, the moon and Venus, try scanning the east-northeast horizon with binoculars. In spite of the fact that it will continue to increase in brightness, Mercury will be getting increasingly more difficult to see in the morning sky after Friday as it will continue to get lower and plunge more deeply into the glow of morning twilight.
By month’s end, the closest planet to the sun will be all but gone from our view.
So take advantage of this week’s opportunity to see not only Mercury, but Venus as well while they also “flirt” with a waning crescent moon.
Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest lecturer at New York's Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for Natural History magazine, the Farmer's Almanac and other publications, and he is also an on-camera meteorologist for News 12 Westchester, N.Y. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.