Catch a glimpse of Mercury just after sunset

By | Published: November 6, 2018 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
Earthbound observers get superb views of Mercury in mid-April, though the detail will pale in comparison to what the MESSENGER spacecraft ­captured up close.

Mercury reaches greatest eastern elongation today – the point where it’s farthest from Sun in Earth’s sky – and climbs highest in the southwestern sky after sunset. 

Although the innermost planet stands 23° east of the Sun, it barely scrapes the southwestern horizon for observers at mid-northern latitudes. Use binoculars to hunt for the magnitude –0.3 object some 4° high a half-hour after sunset. 

Mercury appears much more conspicuous from the Southern Hemisphere, where it stands 16° high 30 minutes after sundown and doesn’t set until 90 minutes later.

To see observing targets for every night, read The Sky This Week