Sky spy: Watch for Mercury and Venus

2014-03-13T00:00:00Z 2014-03-13T09:27:37Z Sky spy: Watch for Mercury and VenusBy Tim Hunter Special to the Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

While the moon dims our evening sky for much of the next week, the morning sky offers great viewing.

Venus rises somewhat after 4 a.m. and is well above the southeastern horizon by twilight, around 5:15.

Fleeting Mercury rises a little before 5:30 and remains low on the eastern horizon when the sun rises about 6:30. Not nearly as bright as Venus, Mercury is bright enough to be easily visible in a clear pre-dawn sky if you have an unobstructed eastern horizon.

On Friday morning Mercury is at its greatest elongation, 27 degrees west of the sun — almost as far as it ever gets from the sun.

When Mercury is visible in the pre-dawn sky it is at western elongation from the sun. When visible just after sunset, it is at eastern elongation from the sun. The closest planet to the sun, Mercury is the fastest moving, changing its position in the sky from day to day.

On Tuesday and Wednesday switch your attention to the southwestern sky. At 5:15 the moon will be close to blue-white Spica and red Mars (highest).

This is a good way to get ready for the spring equinox on Thursday.

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