Mercury and Venus to be visible tonight: How to see

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The Moon is looking progressively dimmer this week, making stargazing opportunities more pronounced. Amateur astronomers and stargazers will be no more excited than the opportunity to see Mercury and Venus this evening. The two planets are the innermost celestial bodies in the solar system, with Earth coming next in the pecking order.

How to see Venus and Mercury tonight

As Venus and Mercury are on the inside, relative to Earth’s positioning from the Sun, they will only be visible for a few hours after sunset.

This is because as one side of Earth reaches night time, it is facing away from the Sun.

This obviously makes the two planets impossible to see.

However, there is a period just after sunset when Venus and Mercury will both be visible.

Venus will be just next to the rising Moon on May 12.

While Venus will be easy to spot, to find Mercury is slightly trickier.

To do so, look at the waxing crescent Moon and follow it straight up around 45 minutes after sunset.

In the UK, the Sun will set at 20:42 BST.

According to Time and Date, Venus will be visible until 21:49 while Mercury can be seen until 22:52.

The two planets will appear as if they are merely bright stars.

Earthsky said: “No matter where you live, you’ll need an unobstructed horizon in the direction of sunset to increase your chances of catching the exceedingly thin young moon and Venus low in the sky and near the horizon, after sunset May 12.

“Even though the moon and Venus rank as the second-brightest and third-brightest celestial bodies to light up the heavens, after the sun, the brilliant twosome must compete with the evening twilight glow in the west.

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“And you can’t wait to see them until twilight fades: the moon and Venus will follow the sun beneath the horizon before nightfall.

“If you miss the moon and/or Venus on May 12, try again on May 13, as a wider yet still slender lunar crescent shines higher up at sunset, and stays out longer after darkness falls.

“What’s more, the illuminated side of the moon points at Venus, and you’re more likely to catch the soft glow of earthshine adorning the dark (nighttime) side of the Moon.”

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