March 3rd, 2018, 6:15 p.m. local time
Here at Paul Stephen's Journal, we are ready at a moment’s notice to bring you riveting images of our night sky. This happened Saturday night. I have been blessed with wonderfully clear skies all weekend, so I had already planned to take more wide field views of the sky in a couple hours (more on this later in the week). So around 6:00 I was waiting, playing my Xbox, when one of my astronomy apps chimed on my iPad. It told me to see Venus and Mercury after Sunset all through March!
My first thought was, oh crap, I almost forgot about that! I further completely forgot that Venus and Mercury would be very close tonight. I also knew that time was not on my side. The Sun had already set within the last 20 minutes. I might miss my window!
So began the five-minute drill to quickly assemble my tripod, set up my camera with the 300mm lens, attach camera to tripod, and, as I’m grabbing my binoculars heading out the door, get outside. Fortunately, the clear skies made it easy to find the two planets. And they were indeed very close, fitting into my binocular view handily.
As you can see in the picture, I had maybe a minute before the planets would have been lost below that house. This only emphasizes how little time there was; 30 minutes past Sunset was already almost too late.
If you cannot see them in the full picture, particularly Mercury, here they are pointed out: