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Neptune glows at its brightest

August 2011: Almost all the major planets are on display this month.
Neptune
Blue-gray Neptune looks bland through backyard scopes, but Voyager 2 discovered bright clouds and huge storms when it flew past in 1989.
NASA/JPL

Of all the major planets, only Venus hides from view this month. Saturn looks great in the early evening sky, but it descends toward the western horizon soon after sunset. As midnight approaches, Uranus and Neptune make fine binocular targets. Although Jupiter stars in the morning sky, Mars plays an effective supporting role. And as August closes, Mercury reappears before dawn.

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