¡SkyCaramba! Astronomy blog for the week ending May 25, 2013
Three planets meet up
In the next few nights, three planets that haven’t met up in two years are coming together in the evening sky. On May 21, Mercury will be just below Venus which will be below Jupiter. All three will be almost in a straight line. From night to night, Venus is moving upward and Mercury appears to be in hot pursuit of it.
On the 24th, Venus and Mercury are side by side. Then Mercury passes Venus. The three planets are in a triangle on the 26th. On the 27th, you’ll see that Mercury has passed the other two. It will continue rising above them while Venus and Jupiter get very close on the 28th.
On the 29th, the three are in nearly a straight line again. This time Mercury is above them both, Venus is second, and Jupiter is just below Venus. Jupiter drops into the sunset after that, while Mercury and Venus continue upward.
This is a convenient time to see Mercury, because easily recognizable Venus is close by. Many people have trouble recognizing Mercury when it’s not close to something else easily identified.