As a quick followup to my post last week about Mercury being at elongation (that was back on Thursday, July 12) – I failed to mention, because I didn’t know, that the brand new baby moon would be right next to Mercury on Saturday night (the 14th). Here’s what I saw:
Mercury is actually fairly bright, about Mag 0.6 right now (compare to Saturn at 1.0 on the opposite side of the sky), but Mercury is having to compete with western twilight and the light of the Sun scattering in the high atmosphere. This was taken right as Mercury became naked-eye visible, about 9:15 pm local. The little dot at the bottom of the frame is Mercury.
Here’s what I saw about 20 minutes later. Same dot, same planet.
Unfortunately, not too long after this, the pair set. The window to catch Mercury is not long… but it IS visible for the next few days.
During this time, you can see Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, and the Moon up at the same time – doing a great job of defining the ecliptic plane (the plane occupied by the orbital disk of the solar system). And if you wait an hour or so, after Mercury has set, Mars rises, extremely bright and close, in the east.
Mars will be at opposition on July 27. Looking forward to having it in our evening skies as well!
Get Out There