Observations

A message from Venus this weekend

Venus and Mercury are just under 1-degree apart in the evening of May 22, 2020, low above the north west horizon after sunset.
Venus and Mercury are just under 1-degree apart in the evening of May 22, 2020, low above the north west horizon immediately after sunset. This is the view from Sydney at 5:15pm. Image made using Stellarium.

This Friday (May 22, 2020) the Goddess of Love sends us a message. But what is it and how can we find out?

On this night the planets Mercury and Venus are “in conjunction” as Mercury, named for the Messenger of the gods, passes close by Venus, goddess of Love.

After the sun sets (that’s about 5pm to 6:30pm depending on your location in Australia) look towards the north-western horizon. Venus is the bright ‘star’ close, very close, to the horizon. Just above-left of Venus sits Mercury – a little over a Moon-width away and much fainter. Together they’re a lovely pairing.

However, this is a difficult observation due to the planets’ proximity to the horizon. You will need a clear north-western horizon with no hills, buildings or trees blocking your view. Head to a hill if there is one nearby. And binoculars will help – please ensure the Sun has set before using them to avoid eye damage.

But if Venus has something to convey to us via her Messenger, Mercury, what is it?

Well, I think she is telling us to look again on the evening of May 24. This time the Moon joins the party to form a beautiful love-triangle. Once again Venus is low down by the north-western horizon, Mercury has moved up and to the right of Venus. And the Moon is a very thin crescent completing the triangle!

On May 24, 2020, Venus, Mercury and the crescent Moon form a triangle low over the north west horizon.
On May 24, 2020, Venus, Mercury and the crescent Moon form a triangle low above the north west horizon. This is the view from Sydney at 5:15pm. Image made using Stellarium.

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