Watch for Mercury, too, as 2021 ends

Watch for Mercury: Sky chart with slanted green line of ecliptic, with planets along it, Mercury and Venus near bottom.
In late December 2021, Jupiter, Saturn, Venus and Mercury are all clustered near the sunset. Watch for Mercury, the sun’s innermost planet, near Venus. Both will be very near the sunset horizon. Can’t see Mercury? Try binoculars.

Watch for Mercury after sunset

The sun’s innermost planet, Mercury, is nowhere to be found for most of December 2021. Presently, it has been moving around the far side of the blinding sun, as seen from Earth. So it’s been crossing the sky with the sun during the day for us on Earth. However, the last several evenings of 2021 may bring Mercury into view for you. Mercury is now moving out to one side of the sun from our early perspective.

In addition, its angular distance from the sun on our sky’s dome is increasing. So we should glimpse the planet briefly, perhaps 30 minutes after sunset, in the sunset direction, in late December. For this reason, you’ll need a sky that’s clear to the horizon in the sunset direction. And you’ll need to know just where to look. The chart above shows Mercury in relationship to Venus, Saturn and Jupiter in the western twilight.

Also, you have to look at the right time! Ideally, look soon after sunset. Mercury (and Venus) will soon follow the sun below the western horizon.

Love the night sky? Keep track of the moon with EarthSky 2022 lunar calendars. Now available! They make great gifts. Going fast!

How to see Mercury

In late December, as Mercury comes into view, Venus will be almost gone from view, heading into the sunset glare, about to pass between us and the sun on January 9, 2022. Venus is bright, though, so you’ll spot it just above your western horizon. As of now, for us in the Northern Hemisphere, much-dimmer Mercury lies to the left of Venus. Indeed, it might appear too faint to be easily noticed. Binoculars will be a great help in identifying this little world. If you spot them both, just imagine, in one view you’ll have seen the two closest planets to the sun!

For this event, Southern Hemisphere stargazers will have no better a view than Northern Hemisphere observers. But hopefully we’ll all snag Mercury if we try!

Bottom line: Watch for Mercury as 2021 ends. Jupiter, Saturn and Venus will be strung out in a line in the western twilight sky. Mercury will be at the bottom of this line, near the sunset point.

Planet-observing is easy: Top tips here

EarthSky’s monthly planet guide: Visible planets and more

December 28, 2021

Like what you read?
Subscribe and receive daily news delivered to your inbox.

Your email address will only be used for EarthSky content. Privacy Policy
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

More from 

John Jardine Goss

View All