"The Closest and Brightest Full Moon of 2003, and; Mercury at its Best for the Year on the Same Night!"

Scheduled air date: 2003 Apr 07-13

Because the planet Mercury's orbit is so close to the Sun, it is usually hidden from view by the Sun's glare.  During the month of April, however, it will be visible low in the western sky shortly after sunset.  On April 16th, Mercury will be at greatest eastern elongation—the point in its orbit which appears farthest eastward of the Sun as seen from Earth—and should therefore be quite easy to see.
(Shown about an hour after sunset on April 16th for mid-northern latitudes.)

On the same night, we'll be treated to the closest Full Moon of the year.  Because the Full Moon of April 16th will be about 30000 miles/49000 km closer than the farthest Full Moon of the year—which occurs on December 8th—it will appear both larger and about 30% brighter than the latter.

If you wish to view illustrations for other episodes, please see our Star Gazer Illustrated directory.

Illustrations on this page were created using TheSky Astronomy Software, an advanced desktop planetarium program designed for Windows.

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