EYES TO THE SKY: Venus, Mercury paired in evening twilight. EDT the 11th, Earth Hour the 24th

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By Monday, Mar 5 Learning
This colorful view of Mercury was produced by using images from the color base map imaging campaign during MESSENGER's primary mission. These colors are not what Mercury would look like to the human eye, but rather the colors enhance the chemical, mineralogical and physical differences among the rocks that make up Mercury's surface. Image courtesy Messenger - NASA, Carnegie Science, Johns Hopkins

March 5 – 18, 2018

Image courtesy EarthSky.org

Mount Washington — Viewing all five naked-eye planets might fit more easily into our days with the beginning of Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) this coming Sunday, the 11th. Venus and Mercury appear in evening twilight, about half an hour after sunset, and sunset will be an hour later – artificially changed from 5:47 p.m. today to nearly 7 p.m. on the 11th. Saturn, Mars and Jupiter are visible in the morning until about an hour before sunrise. Sunrise is at 6:23 a.m. today necessitating a challenging 5:15 a.m. awakening to meet these planets but, on Sunday the 11th when sunrise by the clock is at 7:13 a.m., we’ll be rising at an easy 6 o’clock.

March 15. Image courtesy EarthSky.org

Brilliant planet Venus, at magnitude -3.9, along with modest Mercury, at -1.3m, are just emerging from the setting sun’s glare. During these early days of their appearance, an unobstructed view to the western horizon is of the essence. To observe the pair before they set, look for Venus, also known as the Evening Star, by 6:20 p.m. today (the planet sets at 6:53 p.m.) and view by 7:45 p.m. on the 18th. Mercury is to be found very close to the upper right of the Evening Star. Bring binoculars so that you may search for Mercury if its light evades you. Both planets climb higher every evening–becoming easy to spot – until the 18th when Mercury begins to drop in altitude. Venus climbs high into the springtime sky while Mercury disappears from view by about the 23rdMercury’s brief appearance is its best in 2018.

Look for the young waxing crescent moon to pair up with the planets Mercury and Venus on or near March 18, 2018.
Image courtesy EarthSky.org

A note from Earth Hour, which takes place Saturday, March 24, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m.:

“You can celebrate Earth Hour in any way you want. It’s entirely in your hands. Want to keep it simple? Go stargazing, host a candlelight dinner, or simply switch off your lights for an hour. Thinking of going a little bigger? You could put on a gig or concert, screen a movie, or host an Earth Hour party!” https://www.earthhour.org/


False color image of Mercury
MESSENGER Mission to Mercury MErcury Surface, Space ENvionment, GEochemistry, and Ranging – http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/Explore/images/highlights/large/MDIS_global_enhancedcolor_map_rot_140.globe.bright.png

Opportunities to Participate

March 24, 8:30 – 9:30 p.m., Earth Hour – https://www.earthhour.org/

April 15–21, International Dark Sky Week – http://www.darksky.org/dark-sky-week-2018/

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