Mercury the closest planet to the Sun

Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun and the fastest planet in its small orbit around the Sun. Due to these facts it is one of the hardest planets to see, even though it is bright enough to see with the naked eye it is often hard to see through the glare of he sunset/sunrise and often sets or is to low to view when it gets dark. Because of this it is a fun challange to locate. It is not very interesting through a scope, due to the small size, distance and atmospheric distortions of being close to the western/eastern horizion.

Because the planets are always moving, in relation to the stars around them, there is no way I can point you directly to them without providing monthly or bi-monthly starmaps. Even so you can still find Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn due to their brightness. It will help to get a copy of Astronomy or Sky & Telescope magazine for the present month to know where, when, and if these planets are visible.
These magazines provide monthly sky charts showing the planets. A free software program called Home Planet can be very useful for finding Planets. It can be down loaded by following the above link.

Created: 5/30/00 Updated: 5/11/2005