Saturday evening, you can see some of our neighboring planets in the evening sky.

Saturday shortly after sunset, Venus and Mercury will appear in the western sky. It’s best to see the planet Venus around 30 minutes after sunset, then mercury around an hour after sunset. At this point Venus may start to blend with some of the stars higher in the night sky.

Venus is the brightest planet that we see in our solar system. It’s the 3rd brightest object in our sky behind the sun and our moon. Mercury will appear below Venus in the western sky. Venus is usually pretty easy to see being so bright and being on the other side of the earth than the sun is. Mercury however is not.

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We all know that Mercury orbits closest to the sun, so how is it that we’re able to see it in the evening. Mercury is nearing its position of greatest elongation. This means it will be at its maximum angular separation compared to the sun at 18 degrees. In short it means that relative to us on earth, it’ll be furthest away from the sun. This happens on February 10th.

With that, we’ll be able to Mercury pretty low in the horizon for a short time. Not long, but just a short time around sunset.