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Mercury, Pleiades, Kissing planets - Skywatch 16

Newswatch 16's John Hickey shows us what to look for and when in this week's Skywatch 16.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Skywatchers are in for a treat later this week. There's a three-day stretch with interesting things to see in both the morning and evening sky.

Spotting Mercury

Our moon is in a waning crescent phase this week. That gives our Skywatchers the best view of the night sky, with no natural light pollution from our moon to drown out some of those fainter stars.

We have a great three-night stretch coming up where we'll have interesting stuff to see in the morning and evening sky.

It starts on the evening of April 28, when we'll find the planet Mercury at its highest point above the horizon by about 21 degrees.

To find Mercury, look for the constellation Taurus the bull. Mercury will be located to the lower right of that.

The best time to see this will be about 8:15 p.m. It sets quickly, so you'll want to adhere to that 8:15 guideline.

Mercury and the Pleiades

On the following evening, Mercury has some company. It's joined by the Seven Sisters or the Pleiades star cluster or Messier 45. They'll be within a degree, and a half of each other, which is like taking your arm, outstretching it, and your thumb would almost be able to cover them both up. That represents about a degree and a half in our night sky. Again, the best time to see this will be in the evening, looking to the west, at about 8:15 p.m.

The Kissing Planets

Now for the weekend. Saturday, April 30, you'll see the "kissing planets." Venus and Jupiter will be an outstretched arm pinky's width away in our early morning sky. The best time to see this will be between 5:15 a.m. and 6 a.m. You don't necessarily need binoculars or a telescope to see this, but with either of those things, you would reveal Jupiter's four Galilean moons. If you look up and to the right of our two kissing planets, you'll see the planet Mars.

As always, we'll hope for clear skies.

See past Skywatch 16 segments on YouTube:   

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