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Venus dazzles at dusk

Venus shines brilliantly in July’s evening sky with a still impressive Jupiter nearby, but many eyes will be on the dwarf planets Pluto and Ceres as they reach peak visibility.
Brilliant Venus passed to the upper right of Jupiter after sunset.
Pluto stands front and center during July. Not only is the New Horizons spacecraft swooping within a few thousand miles of the dwarf planet’s surface — bringing humanity its first close-up views — but the distant world also reaches its annual peak in Earth’s night sky. Observers with 8-inch or larger telescopes should be able to track it down.

But the solar system offers plenty of brighter fare as well. Venus and Jupiter continue to dominate the early evening sky while Saturn climbs highest in the south before midnight. During the morning hours, Uranus and Neptune become tempting targets through binoculars. And finally, it’s worth taking a few minutes to view Mercury before sunrise in early July.

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