The Half-Astrophysicist Blog

It’s Pwanet Season!

The next week or so is a great time to see planets as four of the five naked eye planets are easily visible to the naked eye.  Mars is high in the sky as evening falls and Saturn is rising in the east.  The real action is going on the in western sky right after sunset as Mercury and Venus are having a close encounter.

Mercury is normally pretty hard to see as it never gets very far from the Sun.  Near the spring equinox, however, the ecliptic rises very steeply with respect to the horizon allowing Mercury to climb a little higher in the sky than usual.  This time of year is the best to see Mercury…and we have Venus handy to help point the way.

Mercury is to the lower right of Venus now and will get closer to Venus until April 3/4th.  Mercury will then start pulling away and get dimmer rapidly. You can find a chart at Sky and Telecope’s web site.  But why look at a chart when I can show you.  Here is what they looked like tonight from Tucson (as usual, click to embiggen).

I used my zoom lens to get a closer look.

So go out and take a look…this is a good chance to see an elusive planet.

March 31, 2010 - Posted by | Astronomy, Astrophotography, Observing, Solar System

1 Comment »

  1. […] Diese Woche dürfte die beste des ganzen Jahres sein, um den flüchtigen Planeten Merkur am Abendhimmel zu erwischen: Er hat eine ordentliche Elongation und ist sehr hell, so dass er mit hohem Kontrast gegen einen relativ dunklen Dämmerungshimmel gesehen werden kann – und oben links von ihm steht die natürlich noch auffälligere Venus (wie auf diesem Bild von heute 20:50 MESZ aus Königswinter). Die nächsten Tage werden sich die beiden noch näher kommen, wobei die Helligkeit Merkurs allerdings abnimmt: Science@NASA, Astronomie.info, ein S&T Press Release und Artikel von Space.com, Asterythms, Sky & Tel. und Half-Astrophysicist. […]

    Pingback by Beste Sicht auf den Merkur – und die Venus hilft! « Skyweek Zwei Punkt Null | March 31, 2010 | Reply


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