Friday morning, the two planets stand less than 1° apart.
At magnitude –1.8, Jupiter appears more conspicuous than magnitude –0.5 Mercury. Enjoy this pretty conjunction starting about 45 minutes before sunrise, when the pair lies 8° above the southeastern horizon.
As an added bonus, during the conjunction, observers with binoculars might be able to spot the 1st-magnitude star Antares 5° to Jupiter’s lower right.
At that moment, the Sun reaches its farthest point south in the sky. The solstice marks the official beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, and Friday night has more hours of darkness than any other.
From mid-northern latitudes, however, the earliest sunset occurred about two weeks ago, and the latest sunrise won’t happen until early January.
For more quick and easy observing tips, check out The sky this week for December 14 to 23.