This year's summer solstice, Friday (June 21) at 1:04 a.m. EDT (0504 GMT), also features a rare chance to see Mercury, the planet usually obscured by the sun's glare.
Dan Joling / AP
Don’t miss your chance to see Mercury in the night sky as the northern summer kicks off.
The last few weeks have provided an unusually fine opportunity for stargazers to spot the elusive planet Mercury because the planet has been in close proximity to brilliant Venus, and, earlier, Jupiter as well. However, the opportunity is now coming to a close as Mercury passes its maximum elongation from the sun today (June 20) and begins its rapid drop towards the horizon, passing between Earth and the sun on July 9.
For the next few nights, Mercury will be a tiny speck just below Venus. It is closest to Venus on July 20, slightly less than two degrees away, but will also be very close one night earlier or later.
The best time to see Mercury is about half an hour after local sunset. Any earlier, and it will be lost in the sky's glare but much later and it will be too low to see. It is most easily spotted with binoculars, but once you've located it, the planet should be relatively easy to see with the naked eye.