Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Good time to spot Mercury

Mercury joins brilliant Venus in our evening sky at about 8:30 p.m. Look to the west just below and to the right from Venus. A dim "star" should appear — Mercury!

Such is our view from Earth ...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Sky: Week of March 28, 2010

Evening Sky:

1. Venus is low in the west at 8:30 p.m. setting just after 9:00. It is easily the brightest object in that part of the sky.
2. Mercury shines much dimmer to the lower right of Venus. During the week, it climbs higher each evening to nearly catch Venus on April 4th.

Because Venus and Mercury are so low above the horizon, they tend to twinkle, especially if the earth's atmosphere is turbulent. Venus normally doesn't twinkle at all, but it might this week.

3. Mars is almost overhead at sunset. Look for it nearly centered among the bright stars Procyon, Pollux, and Regulus. It currently lies 1-binocular field of view to the northwest of the Beehive star cluster.

4. Saturn shines in the east-southeast at 9:00 pm. Just after midnight, it lies high in the south.

5. The near full moon lies directly next to the bright star Spica in Virgo. It will be difficult to spot due to the moon's glaring light.

6. Look to the southwest after 9:00 p.m. for the winter constellations and bright stars, especially Orion and the brightest star in the night sky, Sirius.

Morning Sky:

1. Jupiter is difficult to spot this week because it rises shortly before the sunset. By next Sunday, though, it should have climbed high enough in the east to be spotted by 6:30 a.m.

2. The pretty summer constellations of Scorpius and Sagittarius stand in the south at 5:30 a.m. If you have binoculars, scan that region of the sky.

Such is our view from Earth ....