Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Mercury Ahoy!

Just stepped out into the backyard when a twinkle on the horizon caught my eye. I knew there weren't any bright stars in the area, but it wasn't moving, either, so not an airplane. A quick look with my SkyView app confirmed that it's the planet Mercury!

Astrophotography by iPhone is dodgy, but I took a shot. The bright "star" at upper left is Jupiter. Can't miss it. Mercury is down toward the twilight glow, just above the tree branches. I circled it in the second pic below.

A Mercury sighting isn't especially rare, but it is probably the most difficult naked-eye planet to spot because it's close to the Sun and relatively fast. It's said that the great Renaissance astronomer Copernicus never actually saw Mercury, although that may be apocryphal. I love delightful little discoveries like this that come your way when you're paying attention.

There he is!

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