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Celestial events are aplenty throughout the year, but this weekend, January 23, will be one of the best times to view the often-elusive planet closest to the sun, Mercury.
During this time, Mercury will be at what scientists call its "Greatest Eastern Elongation." The planet, which is usually hard to see with the naked eye due to sun glares, will be 18.6 degrees from the Sun --giving us the opportunity to see it with a naked eye.
The best time for viewing will be just after sunset in the lower western sky, and the planet should be relatively easy to find due to its extraordinarily bright glow (assuming that you have a clear view of the sky). But if you want to skip on the guesswork of locating Mercury, you can download a star/planet finder on a smart device. Google has their own free "Sky Map" app that you can find here.
You will only have about half an hour to catch it before it starts to fade.
If you want a really good view of the night sky, book a night at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve --one of Florida's only and best dark sky parks.
Normally I would recommend stopping out at the Orlando observatory, but it's closed until further notice during the pandemic.
If you want to order your own telescope (which might arrive just in time) you can do so using the link here.
And if you want to brush up on your planetary knowledge, you can do so for free through NASA.
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