Venus is tracking back toward the sun and sinking a little bit every night in the evening sky. Mercury is rising a bit each night toward its greatest elongation, the furthest it gets from the sun, which isn’t far.
Last night they were a dozen or so degrees apart. About 20:20 or so I started looking. Venus is easy to spot a couple times a year, Mercury is much more elusive. But this is an excellent opportunity using Venus as a guide.
Tonight it was closer to 20:30 when I was able to spot Mercury with the naked eye. It had moved closer and a bit to the left of Venus since last night. I could see it easily in binoculars.
As it got darker we were in a race. It was easier to see as it got dark, but the pair of planets were also setting.
This is probably one of the best opportunities that I’ve ever had to spot Mercury. It will continue to drift upward in the evening sky until June 4th, when it be 20° away from the Sun, after which it will rapidly follow Venus toward the morning sky on the other side of the Sun.
If you want to see the two planets together, go take a peek over the next couple of nights. By tomorrow Mercury will appear level or above Venus, but that’s due to how fast Venus is moving toward the Sun.
EXTRA CREDIT – Saturday and Sunday you’ll start to see a very thin crescent moon popping into the picture!