Jonathan Cainer's Zodiac Forecasts

Jonathan Cainer's Astro News
Friday March 26th 2004
Best Chance of the Year to see Mercury by Bernard Fitzwalter

This week and next give us our best chance of the year - well, until late December, anyway - to see Mercury. Mercury is the smallest of the visible planets, and never far from the sun, which means that he is hard to see. By the time the sun has set and the stars have come out, Mercury has usually set as well, and is invisible. At the other end of the day, if he rises before the sun then he will only be visible for a short while before the sun itself rises, and it then becomes impossible to see the little planet in the glare of daylight.

Mercury's role in mythology is closely related to his behaviour in the sky. When he is a herald or a messenger for the gods, it is the same as when he rises before the sun, announcing the arrival of the new day. When he leads souls to the underworld, it is the same as when he leads the rest of the constellations in setting, following the sun to the realms of darkness.

The best chance to see Mercury is when he is as far from the sun as he can get, before his path starts to loop back in towards the sun again, and that means during the next few days, any time between seven and eight in the evening. Watch for Venus coming out in the west as soon as the sun goes down, and remember the exact spot on the horizon where the sun sets, from wherever you happen to be. Draw a thin imaginary line between Venus and the sunset point. You will notice that there are no bright stars on this line at all - except just one, about two thirds of the way down. That's Mercury. If you don't catch him, try again the next night - and try to stand in an open space so that you get a clear view of the horizon. Hard, I know, but Mercury isn't called quicksilver for nothing - you have to be determined to track him down.

Feeling worried about the future? Try this. If you face south after sunset, you will have Venus on your right and Jupiter on your left, both clear and bright. Two planets of good fortune, one on each side of you - doesn't that make you feel better?

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