Saturday, May 2, 2015

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT!! See Mercury in the Western Sky

Hey Space Placers!

If you read my recent columns on the MESSENGER spacecraft and its crashing into the planet Mercury, now is the time to see where it all happened.

Mercury is visible in the Western sky about an hour after sunset and will be for the next week or so. The key to finding Mercury is having a western horizon view that is clear of trees and buildings. Binoculars will help immensely in your search as will this diagram below.

Venus on May 2nd has just passed between Zeta and Beta Tauri, and Aldebaran far below is lining up with Mercury. (These scenes are drawn for 40° north latitude. Far north or south of there, the scene will be tilted left or right, respectively, compared to this view.) - See more at:
Make sure you find Mercury and not Aldebaran. Mercury will be more yellowish-white in color while Aldebaran has a reddish-orange color.

When you look at Mercury say a "thank you" to MESSENGER for the great data and images returned by the plucky spacecraft. It crashed on April 30th after running out of fuel and made a new 52-foot wide crater.

Good luck and clear skies!

Sky Guy in VA

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