For me, as for many other Druids, Mercury (the planet in this context) holds a particular fascination. We all know he’s there and know his role in the zodiac; but how often do we see him? Not that much. But soon we will…
Mercury spins around the Sun much faster than our planet – it takes him only 88 days to make one rotation. And, more importantly, his orbit around our galaxy’s center-star has the shortest diameter; not surprising since he’s the closest planet to the Sun.
Which is exactly why we see him so rarely. Because any planet, no matter how far away from the Sun, when it’s orbit brings it close to this fiery ball of light – from our terrestrial point of view only, though – it disappears in the radiance of the Sun’s light, and becomes invisible to our eyes. Mercury, with its fast and short orbit, is in this no-view zone almost all the time. The only period we see this Messenger of the Gods is when he trails after the Sun – again only as seen from our earthly point of view – and, at the same time, he’s in a section of his orbit where he appears far away from the star.
The good news for us is now, that Mercury passed behind the Sun recently (Jul 23) and has started to appear farther and farther away from him. It’s important to note that he’s also in a section of his orbit where he sinks below the horizon after the Sun, so that we can see the planet actually, due to the then darker sky.
Today (Jul 29) he’s already about 7 degrees behind the Sun on the zodiac, and by next Tuesday (Aug 4) we might see him already. From them on, he should be visible until around the Fall Equinox, with the days where he’s farthest “behind” the Sun being Sep 2 until Sep 5. Then, weather permitting, you should be able to see Mercury nicely, as the planet will be apparent about 50 minutes after Sunset and before he sinks below the horizon himself (at around 8 pm, depending on where you are on our planet).
So, be prepared, fellow Mercury enthusiast, to go out there in the evening and observe this elusive planet in the weeks to come!