Mercury, the solar system’s smallest and innermost planet, climbs to its maximum altitude in the evening sky tonight.
To spot the planet during its peak, head outside about 30 minutes after sunset, when Mercury appears as a brilliantly bright “star” shining some 11° above the western horizon.
This peak coincides with Mercury reaching its greatest elongation from the Sun, when the planet sits some 18° east of Sol.
During its appearance tonight, Mercury shines at magnitude –0.5, so it should be a breeze to spot in the deepening twilight. However, if your unable to see Mercury with your naked eye, binoculars will make the task much easier.
If you can, get your hands on a telescope ahead of sunset and target the planet, as you will see Mercury sports a 7″-diameter disk that appears half-lit.
Finally, don’t put off seeing the show for too long, as Mercury will set in the west about 95 minutes after sunset.
For more quick and easy observing tips, check out The sky this week for February 22 to March 3.