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This Month Is Your Best Chance To View Mercury - Here’s How

This October is going to be one of the best month for astronomy enthusiasts, with Mars, Jupiter, and Venus set to draw remarkably close to one another in the night sky, and the tricky-to-spot Mercury planned to make an exceptional bright appearance in the Northern Hemisphere. We don’t get this type of show for free however - over the next upcoming three weeks, the finest time to view Mercury will be at somewhat around 5:45am (ET), with Jupiter, Mars, and Venus projected to switch up their locations comparative to each other every morning. So everyone should best set their alarm and get prepared to tell your sleepy body it’s all for science.
Image Credit : The Moon sparkles along with Venus and Jupiter. Raymond Shobe/Wikimedia

The first morning of the event is Friday October 17, when Jupiter will ultimately get closer to Mars in the east so they’reonly 0.5 degrees apart, as Joe Rao of Space.com points out. This will be the very first such combination between these two planets since 22 July 2013, and it is going to last till 7 January 2018. Throughout the week of October 22 to 29, Venus will also get in right positon to join the party, and the three planets will align, with only 5 degrees between them. This is a big deal, as the next planetary trio won’t happen again. During this planetary trio, Jupiter will come so close to Venus that they’ll make what’s known as a 'double planet' for nearly 3 hours. This “Double Planet” formation is also not going to happen again until January 2021.

If that’s not enough to make you get you up in the (very early) morning, maybe the chance to catch a sight of Mercury will be. According to Space.com:

"Mercury rises before the Sun all of this month and is surprisingly easy to see from now through Halloween. All you have to do is just look well below and to the left of our three other morning planets and above the eastern horizon during morning twilight, from about 30 to 45 minutes before sunrise for a bright yellowish-orange 'star'."

So far, October 16 is going to be the best morning for Mercury viewing for this whole year, with its location relative to the Sun - almost 18-degrees to the east of it - triggering the light reflected off its exterior to increase intensely over the next couple of days, making it not-much-hard to see with the naked eye. And if you miss that one due to some reason, on October 30, Mercury will be perkier than any other star in the sky, excluding the brightest of them all, Sirius.  

So Happy sky watching from folks at Physics-Astronomy!

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