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In the Sky This Week – July 3, 2018 — 2 Comments

  1. I was determined to catch sight of Mercury last night. SoI drove out to a nearby civic center that has a large open space behind it with a relatively clear western horizon. Despite the oppressive heat and clouds of mosquitoes, I walked out into the middle of that field and drank in the steadily darkening sky, which ran the spectrum from brilliant pink on the horizon to yellow at the tree line, up to pale blue just above the treetops to a deep blue where brilliant Venus reigned supreme, reminding me of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ description of her – “Fair child of beauty, glorious lamp of Love.”

    The sun had set at 8:30, but I couldn’t see anything of Mercury, even through my 8X56 binos, until 9:04 – pretty much right where I expected to find him (a little lower, maybe). The humid atmosphere was distorting the view a bit. Mercury was a distinct yellow instead of its usual pristine white, and it actually twinkled. (Planets aren’t supposed to do that!) I hadn’t brought along my telescope, so both planets remained glittering points of light.

    By 9:12, Mercury had brightened (or, more accurately, the sky had darkened) to the point where he could be seen naked eye, albeit only intermittently, and with averted vision. But by that time, I was being eaten alive, and decided to beat a retreat to the land of air conditioning, glancing up at Jupiter on the way to the car.

  2. > Mercury was a distinct yellow instead of its usual pristine white,
    >and it actually twinkled. (Planets aren’t supposed to do that!)

    But they do. On a couple of occasions I have seen Venus twinkling dramatically. Even my man Locher discussed the twinkling of planets, back in 1614.

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