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Stargazers: Venus and Mars to align this week

Best viewed after sunset, the two planets and the new moon are in conjunction July 12 and 13.
Credit: AP
The crescent moon and Venus

COLUMBIA, S.C. — For those who like to stargaze, check out the skies just after sunset on Monday and Tuesday, July 12 and 13, to see the conjunction of the planets Venus and Mars. The young moon -- visible as barely a sliver -- will be your guide as Venus passes within a half-degree of Mars in the sky.

Although the planets and moon will be visible with the naked eye, a set of binoculars or a telescope will bring the conjunction nearer.

According to timeanddate.com, sunset will be around 8:45 p.m. Looking from an unobstructed view of the horizon, Venus will be the brightest object in the sky, close to the horizon. Mars may be difficult to see because Venus outshines it by 200 percent but as twilight falls, Mars becomes easier to see. The young moon will be appearing just above the two planets on the horizon.

Also making an appearance in the night sky is Regulus, the one and only 1st magnitude star in the constellation of Leo. As the movements of the stars and planets continue through the month, Venus will have a conjunction with Regulus on July 21, with Mars in conjunction with the star on July 29.

Of the four stellar objects, Venus will shine the brightest as it is closest to the Sun.

Weather permitting, you can join in on University of South Carolina's Melton Memorial Observatory's livestream on Monday evening. MMO goes live on Facebook around 9 p.m. on Mondays and gives you a close-up view of the sky for about an hour.

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