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Brilliant planets gather at dawn

July 2012: Mercury hangs above the western horizon after the Sun sets in early July, and Mars, Saturn, and Virgo's brightest star, Spica, pop into view.
MarsSaturnSpica
Mercury hangs above the western horizon after the Sun sets in early July. As the innermost planet sinks and the sky darkens, Mars, Saturn, and Virgo’s brightest star, Spica, pop into view. A waxing crescent Moon joins this trio of bright objects a week before the month ends.

The morning sky displays a pair of planets that appears even more spectacular. Both Venus and Jupiter shine brilliantly before dawn near the impressive Pleiades and Hyades star clusters. You won’t want to miss the waning crescent Moon’s passage through this region in mid-July.

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