Mercury bright in morning sky

Mercury is currently putting on an appearance in the morning sky for northern hemisphere observers, so if you’ve never seen the innermost planet then now is your chance.

Mercury on 27 OctoberDon’t hang around though because these opportunities only last a few days before the planet retreats once more into the glare close to the Sun. You may be surprised at how easy it is to spot, shining at magnitude -1.

I spotted Mercury for the third time in four days this morning and it presented a wonderful scene, lying just a few degrees from a very fine crescent Moon that it was itself a little more than 40 hours from new.

The reason why now is a good opportunity to see Mercury from our part of the world is because the planet lies higher above the horizon than it would at other times of the year at an elongation. This is because the ecliptic – the path along which the planets
travel – is steeply inclined to the eastern horizon at this time of year.

Look to the south-south-east as the dawn sky is brightening. I got my view of Mercury from the south-west of London at around 6am local time today (0600 UT).

In the evening sky, you can spot the other inner planet, Venus, which is steadily moving away from the Sun. You will need a clear horizon at the moment as it is quite low, but conditions get better and better over the next few weeks. Fir mire details of what is on view in the sky right now, see our monthly sky map.

Picture: A screen grab from Starry Night shows Mercury and the Moon on the morning of 27 October.

• Skymania welcomes your comments on our stories! For more space reading, check out the Skymania stores in the USA, the UK, Canada and France. They are powered by Amazon so you can buy with confidence.

Get free Skymania news updates by email

Sign up for alerts to our latest reports. No spam ever - we promise!

You might also enjoy these posts
Mercury puts on a good show in the evening sky Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun, can be seen above the western horizon after sunset.
Three bright planets grace dawn skies Early risers can enjoy the sight of three bright planets - Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn - at the moment in the morning sky.
A very special few weeks to catch elusive Mercury This week offers a great chance to glimpse planet Mercury in the evening sky and there is a chance to see it in a more unusual way in May when it passes directly in front of the Su...
Mercury on view in morning sky Mercury is putting on a good show in the morning sky, so if you have never seen it, grab this opportunity!
NASA probe snaps fragile Earth You are here! NASA's Messenger spaceprobe has looked back to capture a unique image of the Earth and Moon hanging against a starry backdrop.

By Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland has been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. He writes regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy, plus he has authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment moderation is enabled. Your comment may take some time to appear.