While Mercury is one of the brightest objects in the sky, it is also one of the most elusive for stargazers. In the coming days, Mercury is at its optimal point of viewing for anyone in the Northern Hemisphere.
While Mercury can be spotted in the twilight sky, it is still just a tiny speck. To see the planet, stargazers must find a western horizon with a low unobstructed view. Gazers must then wait until one half hour past sunset and then sweep to the left of the sunset with a pair of binoculars.
While binoculars can help spot the planet, viewers can then see the planet with the naked eye. If using a telescope, Mercury is viewed as a “half moon.”
The earliest viewing time for Mercury will be tonight when Mars and Mercury will appear to be very close to one another in the night sky.
While Mercury will appear to be located close to Mars, the planets will actually be 108 million miles apart. Mercury will appear on the near side of the sun and Mars will appear on the far side of the sun.
If you miss the February 8 viewing, Mercury and Mars will appear together once again on Monday, February 11. During the second viewing, the planets can be spotted together by looking at the “dark side” of the moon with a pair of binoculars.
Finally, if you miss the first two viewings you can try again on February 15 when Mercury will reach its greatest elongation from the Sun.
Do you plan on viewing Mercury in the nighttime sky?