A chal­leng­ing Mer­cury-Jupiter con­junc­tion

Sky at Night Magazine - - OCTOBER / THE SKY GUIDE -

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

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