Planets and a comet visit the pre-dawn sky

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HOUSTON – Hold on to your hats. The people who watch the night skies tell us there’s going to be unusual sights in the heavens from Jan. 20 to Feb. 20.

Five planets will be visible with the naked eye about 45 minutes before dawn each of those days: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.

This is the first time in more than a decade that these five planets line up before dawn for our viewing pleasure.

Mercury may be a bit hard to see because it gets lost in the glare of the sun. But it’s gonna be sitting there, a tiny bright spot between Venus and the horizon.

You’ll find Venus and her half shell just above the horizon. Only the moon is brighter in the night sky.

Jupiter is next in brightness. He’ll be in the southwestern sky.

If you find Venus and Jupiter, then Mars will be the red dot about halfway between them.

And by then, you can find Saturn, which will be right between Mars and Venus.

You’re in luck if you like comets.

The comet Catalina will make its first, and last, appearance in our part of the solar system.

It will be about 67 million miles away, near Ursa Major, the Big Dipper. You may need binoculars or a telescope, though.

But just don’t get too close to the moon while you’re out there. Strange things can happen under the moonlight, the serious moonlight.