So it shouldn’t come as any surprise to anyone that I’m a bit of a skywatcher… though my preference is for the celestial events of the night.
This week, though, there’s a rare event that it’s in line with being up on Barn Bluff in the morning. About forty-five minutes before sunrise, looking to the east, it’s supposedly possible to see the planet Mercury during this first week of October. So if I can be up on the overlook by 6:30… and it’s a clear morning… and I have a pair of binoculars with me to help spot the shy disc of our tiny neighbor… I should be able to catch a glimpse.
Of all the planets visible to the naked eye, Mercury is the hardest to see. With an orbit only 88 Earth days long, the right time and place (and weather conditions, naturally!) are critical. Right now Mercury is far enough away from the sun to appear unobstructed in our skies, but only for a brief time before dawn.
Now, I’ve seen Jupiter any number of times, Mars and Venus have been fixtures in my night sky since I was a kid old enough to understand that the shiny-bright evening star and the reddish one that follows it across the sky were actually planets, and I’m pretty sure I’ve caught sight of Saturn a time or three (a decent telescope is on my wish list – I would totally love seeing the rings in person, not in pictures!)… but Mercury! I’ve never seen him. Didn’t truly realize or believe that we could, he’s so close to the sun, so easily obscured by our daystar’s light.
Hopefully tomorrow will show crystal-clear skies to the east. Or maybe the tomorrow after that.
I’ll have to dig out the binoculars tonight…