Mercury, the smallest planet, never strays far from the sun. It is faint and always in twilight, but now is the time to find it. After sunset, Saturn is in the southwest, dropping towards the horizon every night. Saturn is about two fist-widths at arms-length above the horizon (20 degrees) and Mercury is about halfway to the horizon.
They are in conjunction Dec. 6 when they appear very close in the sky. They will be one degree apart (width of your “pinky” held at arm’s length). At sunset, they will be 10 degrees (one fist-width) above the horizon. Find a dark place with no trees to the east and locate Saturn after sunset. Binoculars will help.
Saturn is too low to see from the observatory until next year, but come to public night, on the first Friday each month from sunset to 10 p.m. to see other celestial wonders. For information, visit humbleisd.net/observatory.
By Dr. Aaron B. Clevenson
Observatory Director, Insperity Observatory