Thursday is Thanksgiving. Every year at this time, I give thanks for Tucson being the astronomy capital of the world and for our relatively dark city skies compared to most urban centers.
Try not to overeat at your traditional Thanksgiving feast.
The sun sets at 5:20 p.m. Thursday. Set aside time either before or after your meal to look at the twilight sky in the west around 5:45 p.m. In the southwest is fleeting Mercury, 8 degrees above the horizon. Five degrees above Mercury is Saturn. Higher up and more toward the south will be a beautiful 5-day-old moon.
On Friday night, Mercury is at its greatest eastern elongation (distance from the sun) of 22 degrees. This is the best time to view Mercury after sunset in the western sky for a while. Mercury never sticks around for long, and it will soon be appearing in the morning sky in the east prior to sunrise.
On Sunday night, look for the first quarter moon, which is directly south at 6:45 p.m. It will be a good pointer to Fomalhaut, the 18th brightest star in the sky. Fomalhaut will be 19 degrees directly south of the moon. This is one of amateur astronomer’s favorite stars due to its unique name and location in a part of the sky with no nearby bright stars. In a moonlit or light polluted sky Fomalhaut often seems to be by itself.