Tuesday, 6 May 2008

The moon and mercury

Its been a while since I took any photos of the night sky. What with some foul weather, and a dose of flu that had me confined to bed for a week, the opportunities have been thin on the ground. However tonight it was clearish, although some hazy cloud around, and I wondered about looking for some M object or other to try and photograph. However checking with a few star charts, and with stellarium, it seems Mercury might be visible soon after sunset.
Its in the west obviously, which is not a good view from our garden. A whacking big house being in the way for one! However we have a balcony on the front of the house that we never use, which I thought might be useful. It turns out to be an excellent platform for this. Being on the first floor, its not too far being at roof top level, or at least looking over the houses across the street is only 1 or 2 degrees from horizontal.

Anyway, I scanned the sky anxiously as the Sun set. Stellarium showed the moon would be lined up with Mercury, but such a thin wedge that it might not be visible. Eventually after much scanning, and not a little ridicule from the neighbours, I spotted a thin rim of the moon.
About 30 minutes later, as it got darker, there was Mercury - right where it should be!