Today features an event that can’t been seen, but one that has been of interest to astronomers since the earliest observers. Early this morning, the planet Mercury passes between the Earth and the Sun, known as its “inferior conjunction”. The alignment isn’t exact, with Mercury to the upper left of the Sun. Mercury reappears late in the month, but still to close too the Sun.
As the twilight fades by 9:15 PM or so, the waxing Gibbous Moon is escorted across the southern skies by the bright, steely-blue star Spica, located just to its lower right. Spica is diminished by the lunar glare this evening, but regains its composure as the Moon moves away through the rest of the month.
Late this evening, near 10:30, lowering toward the northwestern horizon shines a sparkling, flashing object, with random flares of green, or red, or blue. No, it is not a UFO, but the bright star Capella. Bright stars, when they are near the horizon, have their light bent by the atmosphere, much like light going through a crystal or prism.