Moon Watch

The moon is at first quarter Friday. It rises today at 10:55 a.m. and sets Friday just after midnight at 12:22. A first quarter moon has its right side lit from our perspective, and it rises about noon local time and sets at midnight.

Ever-brilliant Venus is back in the evening sky. Exceeded only by the sun and the moon in brightness, Venus is simply wonderful any time it is visible in the pre-dawn morning sky or in the evening sky after sunset.

Give it a try tonight. Look toward the west right after sunset (7:16 p.m.) to find Venus just above the western horizon. It will be 8 degrees above the horizon at 7:30 p.m. Just above Venus, a little farther from the horizon, is Jupiter.

For the next three to four weeks, be sure to observe the western horizon after sunset to see Mercury joining Venus and Jupiter for a spectacular planetary dance.

Mercury should become visible just above the horizon by Sunday evening.

To see all three planets at their best you will need an unobstructed horizon running from due west to due northwest.

At first Mercury will be the lowest, followed by Venus and then Jupiter highest above the horizon. Mercury is the closest planet to the sun and never sticks in one spot for very long. It is fast-moving, changing its position in the sky on a daily basis. Venus is also fast-moving, while Jupiter is very sluggish, appearing to stay in the same place in the sky for long periods.

As you watch this planetary dance, you will see the three planets getting closer and closer together and changing their relative positions.

By early June, Mercury will be farthest from the horizon and Jupiter closest to the horizon. This shouldn't be missed.

Contact Tim Hunter,