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See Mercury and Venus in a dark, pre-dawn sky from the Southern Hemisphere

10 Apr 2019, 15:02 UTC
See Mercury and Venus in a dark, pre-dawn sky from the Southern Hemisphere
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Mercury attains a very favourable western elongation of almost 28 degrees from the Sun on 11 April, which means that the innermost planet is a morning object in the eastern sky before sunrise. Antipodean skywatchers are in the enviable position of currently being able to see both Mercury and conspicuous planetary sibling Venus in a dark sky before the onset of astronomical twilight. For ten mornings starting 11 April (Australasian dates), Venus and Mercury lie within 5 degrees of each other and visible in the same field of view of 10× and lower magnification binoculars. Venus and Mercury are closest (4° 17′ apart) on 17 April. AN animation by Ade Ashford.It’s a popular misconception that Mercury can only be seen in twilight, either in the east shortly before sunrise when the innermost planet is close to a western elongation (as now), or in the west soon after sunset when the planet is near an eastern elongation. But if the circumstances are just right, it is possible to see Mercury in a truly dark sky before the first glimmer of astronomical dawn, or after astronomical dusk for eastern elongations.
On Thursday, 11 April at 19:37 UT (8:37pm BST), Mercury attains a ...

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