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Mercury climbs into view

March 2005: The beacon rising in the east in midevening is giant Jupiter. Along with Saturn and comets Machholz and C/2003 K4, there's plenty to distract deep-sky observers from their Messier marathons.
Shining with ease through the deepening dusk, the innermost planet, Mercury, puts on its best evening apparition of 2005 for Northern Hemisphere skywatchers. Half an hour to an hour after sunset, look low in the west for a bright dot piercing the deep orange to blue twilight sky. No other planet or bright star lurks nearby to create confusion. For the first 2 weeks of March, Mercury climbs away from the Sun, reaching its greatest elongation the 12th. The night before, a day-and-a-half-old cresce...

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