Mercury to appear as a pink dot in the sky at sunset

Feb 12, 2013
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Mercury to appear as a pink dot in the sky at sunset

Sky watchers are in for a treat in the early evening sky from February 8 through February 21. If you're outside and have clear skies between those days you can spy elusive Mercury in the early evening sky as a small pink dot. Mercury will appear very low in the sky and will emerge roughly half an hour after sunset.

NASA says sky watchers who want to view Mercury should look for the pink planet near the horizon where the sun's glow still lingers after it goes down. The reason for the pink color of the planet has to do with the pink tinged light at sunset. The planet started lingering for as long as 30 minutes after sunset on February 11.

Another treat for sky watchers is that the moon, Mars, and Mercury will all be viewable in the same patch of sky. Sky watchers will need to have a view of the western sky at sunset. Mars and Mercury will appear relatively close together in the sky the next several days.

A pair of binoculars or a small telescope will give sky watchers an even better view. Mercury is only a bit larger than the moon and orbits the sun every 88 days. The surface of the planet is also incredibly hot reaching as much as 840°F. However, sections facing away from the sun that are in perpetual shadow have been discovered to hide ice.

[via Space.com]


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