October 22, 2021

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Spot the elusive planet Mercury at its ‘greatest elongation’ from the sun this evening

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Mercury, Venus and the first-quarter moon — along with the stars Spica and Arcturus — will appear to form a straight line in the evening sky on Sept. 13, 2021. This sky map shows the view from New York City at approximately 7 p.m. local time. (Image credit: SkySafari app)

Of the five “naked-eye” planets in Earth’s night sky, Mercury tends to be the most difficult to spot because the tiny planet tends to linger in the sun’s bright glare. 

But tonight (Sept. 13) Mercury will reach its farthest separation from the sun as seen from Earth, also known as its greatest eastern elongation, which makes this the best night to look for the planet during its current evening apparition. After tonight, the planet will appear to make a small U-turn in our evening sky and creep closer to the sun again. To safely see Mercury, wait until sunset — its proximity to the sun can make it dangerous to observe without proper eye protection.

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