Most times, the messenger of the gods is hard to spot, but this week the planet Mercury reaches it greatest angular distance from the sun and is visible in the western sky at dusk. Mercury, named for the ancient Roman deity Mercurius, can be seen after sunset low in the western sky just above the horizon. Due to its proximity to the sun Mercury is not long in the night sky and will not be visible after mid-month when it traverses a path between the earth and sun reaching inferior conjunction on September 30. Mercury will reappear in the eastern sky in October becoming a “morning star” and reaching greatest angular distance from the sun on October 16th. So if you want to see Mercury get outside on a clear evening just after sunset and look due west. But you’ll have to be quick because the planet will disappear beneath the horizon less than an hour after the sun sets. Happy hunting!
Michael E. Palmer is a writer and photographer based in Alabama.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org