Mercury and Spica

20sep-ecliptic   Saturday evening the innermost planet Mercury will come within about 0.5o of the star Spica, a bluish-white star in the constellation Virgo the Harvest Maiden. While the pair is around 25o east from the setting sun the angle of the ecliptic is low compared to other days of the year.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   Viewing these two may definitely be a challenge because of how low they will be when the sky darkens enough to see them. However using binoculars or a wide field view eyepiece in a telescope they can be seen. And the contrast in apparent magnitudes is easily noticed (assuming you can see the pair). Mercury has an apparent magnitude of 0.11, while Spica has an apparent magnitude of 1.0.

   
   
   
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Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

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