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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

This Week: The Best View of Mercury

This Week: The Best View of Mercury

If you want to get a peek at Mercury, the innermost planet of our solar system, this week will be the best time all year to do so.

Because it orbits so close to the Sun, it can be difficult to get a look at “the Swift Planet,” but Mercury is currently far enough from the Sun to be brightly visible in the western sky.

Mercury came into view on February 2, and appeared to brush up against Mars on February 8. This week, though, the planet will really shine, as it reaches its greatest elongation from the Sun on Saturday night, February 16. It will be exceptionally bright that night, and fade rapidly until February 23, when it will slip out of view.

The best time to view Mercury over the next couple of weeks is shortly after sunset.

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If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1910, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.