Mercury is called the most elusive planet because it’s the innermost planet, always hovering near the sunrise or sunset. Venus is the brightest planet and was in the morning sky throughout the latter part of 2017. Venus only began showing up after sunset again last month, when you had to look exceedingly low in the sky to see it. Earlier this month, if you looked very low in the west after sunset, you could see Venus and Mercury in conjunction, that is, exceedingly near each other on our sky’s dome. Their actual conjunction was March 5, when they were only a little more than one degree apart. That’s about the width of your little finger at arm’s length. Venus and Mercury will remain close enough together on the sky’s dome to fit inside a typical binocular field of 5 degrees for the first three weeks of March 2018.
The best time to glimpse Venus and Mercury this month might be around March 18, 19 and 20, when the moon sweeps past them. Mercury will be past its highest point in the sky by then. It’ll be already sinking into the sun’s glare. But the moon, Venus and Mercury will be a beautiful sight in the west after sunset around those dates (see chart below). Afterwards, Mercury will disappear into the sun’s glare, and Venus will go on to appear in our evening sky for many months. Enjoy them!
Bottom line: Photos of the Venus/Mercury conjunction in March 2018.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. In 2020, she was the Education Prize from the American Astronomical Society, the largest organization of professional astronomers in North America. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.
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