Venus and Mercury Just After Sunset
The sun’s innermost planets, Mercury and Venus, will pair up in the west after sunset – their closest pairing for all of 2020 – on May 21 or 22. These two worlds will pass within only one degree on the sky’s dome. That’s approximately the width of your little finger held at arm’s length. Their pairing takes place low in the western twilight sky, shortly after sunset. Bright twilight will make Mercury hard to see. But Venus is very bright. Its brightness will pierce the twilight, making Venus an interesting and beautiful object to see now. Plus Venus can help you find and identify Mercury.
To witness the unfolding of this grand celestial event, find an unobstructed horizon in the direction of sunset. As twilight deepens into darkness, watch for Venus to pop out 1/2 hour (or sooner) after sunset. Given clear skies, it’ll be hard to miss Venus, as it’s the third-brightest celestial body to light up the heavens, after the sun and moon, respectively. Luckily, Venus is our ticket to catching Mercury.”