Reworded: The planets Mercury and Venus were visible in the early morning sky, creating a dazzling display.
The beginning of the new year kicks off with a spectacular display from the two closest planets, Mercury and Venus, in the early morning sky.
Venus, situated 114m miles from Earth, will be blazingly obvious in the sky. Its reflective cloud layer acts like a mirror to the sunlight and it will be easily visible in a clear sky.
Reworded: Mercury will present a greater difficulty. Despite being closer, at a distance of 86 million miles, it is a smaller planet than Venus and lacks a significant atmosphere. Its rough terrain is not as effective as Venus’s cloud cover in reflecting light, resulting in a much dimmer appearance from Earth. As a result, its brightness will be competing with the increasing light of dawn.
The diagram displays the perspective towards the southeast from London at 7am GMT on January 8th. On this date, Mercury and Venus will be accompanied by a delicately slender waning crescent moon, with only 12.7% of its surface visible.
In order to increase the likelihood of observing Mercury, locate a viewing spot with a clear south-eastern view. This may be more feasible in the southern hemisphere as the objects will appear higher in the sky before dawn.