Appulse of Mercury & Venus,
01 June 1980
An appulse of Mercury and Venus was predicted to occur at 1d18h in June 1980, the two planets coming within one-third of a degree of one another, Mercury at magnitude -0.5 and Venus at magnitude -4.4.
Alerted to the appulse by the OASI Newsletter for June 1980, we aimed to observe the event. Cloud persisted early in the evening and it did not, initially, look as if we had much chance. Then, just before 21:00 UT, while watering the garden, we suddenly realised that the sky was clear and rushed to the front of the house to see if the area of the sky around the setting Sun was clear.
It did not take us long to find Venus and then, after a little while, Catherine thought that she spotted Mercury with the naked eye. Quite a feat to be sure, but yes, on looking through a 5.6 cm handheld refractor at 40x magnification, there it was. We took it in turns to watch for over a quarter of an hour and made the following drawing of the position of the planets.
Sketch of the appulse of Mercury and Venus, 01 June 1980.
Venus was at low altitude and its disk therefore appeared distinctly reddish and devoid of the excessive glare usually encountered! Indeed, at the end of our observation, the planet was only a couple of degrees above the horizon.
Roy & Catherine Adams