See Mercury at Sunset
Science@NASA Headline News Download time: Mar 15 2011 8:09 AM ET
The timing couldn't be better. Just as NASA's MESSENGER probe is about to enter orbit around Mercury, the innermost planet is popping out of the twilight for its best apparition of 2011.
The show begins on March 14th. At the end of the day, go outside and look west into the sunset. A bright star catches your eye—that's Jupiter. Just below it lies Mercury, a little dimmer than the giant planet, but easy to find with Jupiter's guidance.
Over the next few evenings, these two planets will "pass in the night," switching places so that Mercury is on top and Jupiter on the bottom. The higher Mercury rises, the easier it is to see. By the evening of March 17th, the innermost planet should be well above any distant trees or buildings—in prime position for the big event.…