Have you ever seen Mercury?

pgriz

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Right about now (Feb.28/29, 2012) Mercury is visible in the evening sky, about 1/2 hour after sunset. It's not easy to see (binoculars are very helpful), and it's very low on the horizon (about 12 degrees from the sun) but if you have a very clear view of the unobstructed western horizon, you may be able to spot it. Compared to Venus which is very bright and high above the western horizon, and Jupiter, a bit further along, and bright, but not as bright as Venus, Mercury is quite dim, yet it might still be interesting to spot it. I took a shot (see below) and you can see it as a light in the upper right of the image. Not a great photo, but this is one time when any image of it is fine.
(and no, that little spot is not a hot pixel or something else... on the original RAW it covers at least 25 pixels... ;))

_MG_v2_8bit_small_4816.jpg
 

CMfromIL

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Thanks. I thought I saw it, moved the screen a bit and realized that it was a spot on my monitor. I'll keep looking!;)
 
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pgriz

pgriz

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Thanks. I thought I saw it, moved the screen a bit and realized that it was a spot on my monitor. I'll keep looking!;)

Ha! :lol: Yes, that was my reaction as well when I saw the image posted. Which is why I made the update to the post... But you're right, it ain't obvious. I'll repost with an arrow pointing it out, maybe.
 

ArtByQJ

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I was starring at this for 5 minutes. I cleaned my monitor to make sure specks weren't in the way. But once I resized it I found it! Awesome!
 
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pgriz

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Sigh. ok. let's try this:

_MG_v2_8bit_small__withpointers_4816.jpg


Actually, it's harder to see in real life. You need to know exactly where to look, and it helps having the binoculars.
 
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pgriz

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Yes, it is. It's a hard planet to spot, as it is always so close to the sun, that it's visible only when its at the furthest points in on orbit away from the sun from our perspective. And almost always, the sky is still in twilight when it is visible, which makes it hard to pick out in the brightness. Being so low on the horizon also means seeing it through a thick slice of the atmosphere, so unless it is very clear, it is very difficult to see for that reason as well. As I said, the image was more to show that it is possible to spot, than a good photographic image. If you have a clear western horizon, you should be able to pick it out for a few more days. After this, it will have swung further in its orbit towards us, and closer to the glare of the sun.
 

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