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Watch Venus And Mercury, In Twilight

By Devaki

The sky gazers are going be treated with the rare spectacle of Venus and Mercury forming an eye-catching pair for nearly the next two weeks, about 30 to 60 minutes after sunset. It is a rare chance in the life, as it is very hard to spot Mercury.

Venus or the “Evening Star," is the brighter among the two. It is currently making its way out from behind the glare of the Sun, into the twilight view.

Avid sky watchers should look for Mercury glittering to Venus"s lower right from now through around April 3rd. Mercury will be almost directly to Venus"s right from about April 4th through 10th.

Their exact orientation will depend a bit on an observer"s latitude.

They will appear closest together on April 3rd and 4th, separated by about the width of two fingers held at arm"s length (3 degrees).

By April 10th, Mercury will be fading rapidly, as it swings toward the direction between Earth and the Sun. Then its will show us less and less of its sunlit side.

Although the two planets appear close together, they"re not. Venus is about 1.5 times farther away.

On April 3rd, Mercury and Venus are 94 million and 146 million miles from Earth, respectively. That means it takes their light 8.4 and 13 minutes to reach us.

So, don"t miss this chance to do a little astronomy from the backyard, balcony, or rooftop. It"s a big universe, and planets await!

Story first published: Wednesday, March 31, 2010, 13:53 [IST]