Not one day after Venus and the moon paired up so beautifully, Mercury gets a visit from an skinnier crescent moon tomorrow morning Feb. 27. Seeing the two will take a little more effort than this morning’s duo because they’ll be noticeably lower in the east-southeastern sky, and Mercury’s not nearly as bright as Venus. Still, if you have a clear view in that direction, it’s worth looking if only to see the delicate appearance of the moon.
Once you’ve found the crescent, glide your gaze a few degrees to its lower left to find the innermost planet Mercury. The planet shines at first magnitude – reasonably bright – but has to fight bright twilight. That’s why binoculars are recommended to get started.
One of the things I enjoy about Mercury is the naming system for its craters. A quick glance across a map of the planet reveals the names of deceased musicians, artists and writers from around the world. It makes me smile to see some of my favorites composers like Aaron Copland and Bela Bartok and French photographer Eugene Atget memorialized by impacts. Even Walt Disney’s up there.
Mercury brightens as March opens and also moves a little farther up and away from the sun, making it a bit easier to see, but you’ll have to go on it on your own then with no moon to guide the way.