The Year's Best Conjunction is Sunday, March 18

Rare Sighting of Mercury, Venus, and the Moon

January 29, 2019
March 18, 2018 Sky Map

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An unusual thing happens Sunday evening at 7:30 P.M.—a beautiful meeting of the three closest worlds to Earth. The Moon, the planet Venus, and the strange planet Mercury will all be in alignment. And you don’t need a telescope!

But you do need a clear view of the west. If you have a window that faces the sunset all the way down with no hills or trees or houses, that’s perfect. Otherwise go to such a place and be there at around 7:30— or, a half hour after your local sunset. And If you have binoculars, bring them.

Every town offers some location where you can see the low western horizon. Some mall parking lots offer such a clear western view. Just go there that evening.

If it’s clear on March 18th a half hour after sunset, which is probably around 7:30 PM, at a place with an absolutely unobstructed view toward where the sun has set, look low just above the horizon and you’ll see a hair-thin new moon. If you make a clenched fist and hold it out vertically at arms’ length, and place the bottom of the fist at eye level, the top of the fist shows you exactly where that crescent moon is located, meaning about 10 degrees high.

If you can’t see the thin Moon in the bright twilight, use your binoculars and sweep that area low in the West. As the sky darkens, there will come a moment when you’ll easily catch that moon and also notice that a brilliant star floats to its upper right. This is Venus returning after a one-year absence. And to the upper right of Venus is yet another star and this is orange Mercury. So if it’s clear Sunday evening you can be one of the relatively few who have ever glimpsed that odd, tiny, innermost world. And, as a bonus, you’ll observe the year’s most stunning conjunction.

See our full Sky Map for March 18, 2018.

About This Blog

Welcome to “This Week’s Amazing Sky,” the Almanac’s hub for everything stargazing and astronomy. Bob Berman, longtime and famous astronomer for The Old Farmer’s Almanac, will help bring alive the wonders of our universe. From the beautiful stars and planets to magical auroras and eclipses, he covers everything under the Sun (and Moon)! Bob, the world’s mostly widely read astronomer, also has a new weekly podcast, Astounding Universe

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