A challenging Mercury-Jupiter conjunction
WHEN: 26-31 October, approximately 10-15 minutes after sunset
If you’re able to see the bright, mag. –1.6 planet Jupiter low in the southwest after sunset at the beginning of the month, try and stay with it over subsequent evenings. A lovely 8%-lit waxing crescent Moon is located 4.3° from Jupiter on the evening of 11 October and this should make the planet easier to find. Jupiter will be positioned below and left of the Moon’s crescent as seen from the UK. If you miss the close pairing on the 11th, the now 14%-lit crescent Moon sits 10° above and left of Jupiter on the evening of 12 October.
All the while, the Solar System’s innermost planet, Mercury, will be slowly appearing to separate from the Sun and heading for a close, yet tricky to see, conjunction with Jupiter at the end of the month. On the evening of 28 October, mag. –0.2 Mercury will lie 3° directly below Jupiter. Place Jupiter at the top of a binocular field of view and you should see Mercury near the centre. Both planets remain relatively close together between 26-31 October, with Mercury remaining at a similar magnitude across these evenings. See if you can catch both planets before Jupiter finally disappears for the current period of observation.
7x50 binocular field 27 Oct 26 Oct 27 Mercury 28 29 28 30 Jupiter 29 30 31 Oct 31 Oct View approximately 10-15 minutes after sunset