Hey, hey, what’s this? Another planet creeping up on Venus? Just in time for the new year, speedy Mercury is quickly catching up to the goddess world.
Starting tonight you can see both inner planets low in the southwest at dusk starting about 20 minutes after sunset. All you need is an open horizon in that direction. Just to make sure you spot Mercury, carry along a pair of binoculars. Focus first on Venus, then place it at the top of the field of view and look along the bottom for Mercury. The photo above will serve as a guide.
As 2015 begins, Mercury is heading into a splendid evening apparition, reaching its greatest distance from the Sun on January 14th. With Venus as helper planet, this will be one of the best times in the new year to find furtive Mercury.
For six nights starting on the 8th, the two planets will dance cheek-to-cheek only 1° or less apart. Their tightest separation, when they’ll be just 2/3° apart, occurs on January 10th. Great sights lie ahead!