Friday, February 8, 2013

Catch Mercury and Mars Conjunction!

Hi Guys,

Sorry for the late notice, but there will be a great pairing of Mercury and Mars tonight! If you miss it tonight Mercury will still be a splendid target for another week or so, but Mars will get harder to spot.

The view will be something like this:

Mercury is now brightening and climbing in the west just after sunset as it rounds the Sun and speeds away from us. Mars has actually been hugging the western horizon for months now, but is pretty dim and hard to see at about magnitude 3. 

Tonight Mercury will pass about 1/4 degree to the left of Mars. (That is about 1/2 the width of a full Moon). Mercury will bright at about 0 magnitude, but you will need a clear view of the horizon, as it will be very low. It will probably be visible by 5:45pm when it will be only about 5 degrees above the horizon. As the sky gets darker, it will be easier to pick out, but at the same time it will be getting lower, till it sets by 6:15pm. You will probably need binoculars to pick out much fainter Mars just to the left.

If you miss the show tonight, you can still catch Mercury as it gets a bit higher every night for the next 2 weeks. Look for it at about the same time about 45 minutes after sunset. Note how it pulls up and to the right of Mars adding about 1/2 to 1 degree a day. Unfortunately, even though it gets higher each night, it also dims as it gets farther away from us here on earth.

Let me know if you catch them.


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