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February 9 2013

Your best chance to see elusive planet Mercury is now


Despite being among the brightest objects in the sky, Mercury is a planet very rarely seen by even experienced stargazers. The next couple of weeks offer the best opportunity in 2013 for observers in the Northern Hemisphere to spot Mercury's tiny speck of light in the evening twilight sky.

The trick for spotting Mercury is first to find an observing location with a low unobstructed western horizon, wait for half an hour after sunset for the sky to darken, and then sweep to the left of the sunset with binoculars. Once you've initially located the planet with binoculars, you can usually see Mercury with the unaided eye. Don't wait too late, or Mercury will have set. In a telescope, Mercury appears as a tiny "half moon.".

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