The planet Mercury slides behind the Sun today, nothing that we can observe, but it shifts Mercury into the evening skies by next month. Unfortunately, the Earth’s tilted axis keeps it too low for viewing. After another orbit, Mercury makes a much better appearance in the evenings next March.

The Orionid Meteor Shower reaches its peak tonight, best seen in the hours after midnight. The fragments of rock are part of debris released by Halley’s Comet, producing some 10 to 20 meteors per hour. A First Quarter Moon settles toward the horizon, setting before midnight, just as Orion rises to host his meteors.

For early birds, Venus has been a dazzling beacon for several weeks now. It reaches the pinacle of its appearance in the mornings this week, as its orbit carries it to its greatest separation from the Sun, called its Greatest Western Elongation. This brings Venus up at 3:11 AM, nearly four hours before sunrise, high in the southeast by 6:30.