Mercury climbs back into the morning sky

After a week stuck between the Earth and the Sun, Mercury has made its return to the morning sky.
By | Published: December 5, 2018 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
This photomosaic showing Mercury’s Southern Hemisphere highlights how impacts have shaped the surface of the tiny planet over the course of the solar system’s history.

Although Mercury passed between the Sun and Earth just last week, the innermost planet has already climbed back into view during morning twilight.

To spot the solar system’s innermost planet, look low in the southeast about 30 minutes before sunrise, when Mercury stands nearly 9° above the horizon. But make sure to come prepared.

The planet shines at magnitude 0.7, so you’ll likely need binoculars to pick it out of the twilight in the morning. Furthermore, binoculars will show a waning crescent Moon hanging about 5° above the planet.

Though binoculars offer a worthwhile view of Mercury, if you can, get your hands on a telescope. When viewed through a scope, Mercury appears 9″ across and sports a slender crescent phase.

The inner world will grow brighter and climb higher as it approaches greatest elongation in mid-December.

For more quick and easy observing tips, make sure to check out our weekly guide: The sky this week for November 30 to December 9