Monday, May 28, 2007

got the elusive planet! (Toronto)

It was looking very clear this afternoon. And I received a very favourable Clear Sky Alarm Clock reminder for the Toronto area (for after midnight).

Glanced at Walker's Sky screen saver—there's Mercury... Then checked Procyon X on my (fossil) Psion. It said Mercury was 16° up and Venus was 32. Split the difference.

I headed outside. It was around 9:00pm. Venus was bright (magnitude -3.8) and high. But I could not see Mercury.

The moon is gibbous, bright. Seemed low, through the full maple tree.

Grabbed the 7x50 binos and started scanning. After 3 or 4 minutes I found Mercury! Wow. Very faint. About 2° above the treeline.

I watched it through the binos until it would brighten. Then I'd try to spot it with my eyes, unaided. It wasn't until about 15 minutes later, bobbing and weaving, sky darkening, haze clearing, that I could get a fix on it. Particularly where I could look away and then come back to it. At magnitude 0.4, and a very smaller angular size, it was just starting to poke through the dusk.

I wanted to stay out longer and watch Mercury brighten but work called...

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