Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Sky: Week of April 11, 2010

Watch Mercury, the thin, thin crescent Moon, and Mars crossing the Beehive this week!

At about 8:80 p.m., Mercury is visible in the west just to the right and slightly below Venus. As the nights pass, this little planet will grow dimmer and drop closer to the horizon at the same time each evening. On the night of April 15, Mercury is involved with a close encounter with the Moon. Look to the lower right of Venus near the horizon line for the Moon's very thin crescent. To its lower left shines Mercury. Both of them may be difficult to see due the bright background sky glow and both are fairly close to the horizon. If you can't see them, use binoculars. If you succeed, be proud because not many people have seen our Moon as thin as this.

The photo, taken on April 10, shows Venus and Mercury at 8:45 p.m.

Mars passes just north of the Beehive (M44) star cluster this week. The Beehive is a naked eye object, but Mars' glow may prevent you from spotting it without binoculars. With binoculars, the Beehive appears as a couple of dozens twinkling lights. Red, bright Mars hovers above it, between the skep and the swarm.

Such is our view from Earth ...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Your chance to see Mercury

This week, if the weather is clear, is a great time to spot Mercury just after sunset. Look to the west for brilliant Venus at about 8:20 p.m. Just to its lower right lies Mercury. Each evening the tiny planet's position noticeably changes as it orbits the sun. For the next week it appears to move closer to Venus before fading in the bright evening twilight.

Such is our view from Earth ...