Stargazing: Mercury and the crescent moon

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Mercury is putting on one of its best appearances of the year in the evening sky. Locating this diminutive world is one of the sky's great challenges. Even experienced stargazers find locating this small scorched, dead world a difficult task. You can end your frustration in spotting this elusive planet by watching a very young waxing crescent moon pass by Mercury this weekend.

Because Mercury is the closest planet to the sun and its orbit is inside that of Earth's, Mercury is never seen in a really dark sky. It always appears close to the sun and at times rises just before sunrise or sets just after sunset.

Look for the very young thin crescent moon 20 degrees above the west-southwestern horizon Saturday evening, 30 minutes after sunset in the evening twilight. Mercury will be about 10 degrees below the thin crescent moon. By Sunday evening, the crescent moon will have climbed to about 20 degrees above and to the left of Mercury.

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