Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Mercury in Evening Sky

The evening twilight is a little less lonely!  While Venus departed for the morning skies a couple weeks ago, finally the innermost planet Mercury has popped above the western horizon to keep early evening observers company.  It reaches greatest eastern elongation (18 degrees from the sun) on 31 January, so should be easily observable for the next 2 weeks during late twilight in the WSW.  The photo shown here was taken with the 70-200 zoom at 70mm for just under a 1 second exposure at 6:30 local time, about 40 minutes after sunset, and is a very good approximation to the naked-eye view.  Mercury is likely the least-observed of the naked-eye planets, so now is your chance to get out and look for a moderately bright star above and left of where the sun set.  You should have a good view of the western horizon for best results.  Good hunting!

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