MERCURY will be best visible on the 15th and 16th of this month.

It will be located in Pisces in the west around 6:50- 7pm.

But it is a brilliant encounter on the evening of March 3 with Venus that is spectacular with the planet easily outshining Mercury.

On the 18 March Mercury, Venus and the Moon form a line in the sky. Venus will be seen first, Mercury above and to the right with the Moon below it left of Venus. Look for them 30 to 40 minutes after sunset.

Venus in Capricornus in a west direction is an evening object. It sets 90 minutes after the Sun.

Mars in Sagittarius is a morning object moving east and will be situated close to the Moon on the morning of March 10 when it appears close to Saturn.

Jupiter is best visible on the March 30 and 31 in Libra in a south direction and will be close to the Moon on March 7.

Saturn is visible in Sagittarius in a south-east direction.

A morning object, it will be best visible on March 11 when it can be seen near the Moon and also towards the end of the month around 4am.

Uranus is in Pisces in the west but can be seen less and less as the month goes on.

Binoculars and telescopes, therefore, should be used to observe it.

People sometimes ask me how and when I developed an interest in astronomy. I remember a fascination with the subject when I was at Ottershaw School in Surrey in the mid-1970s. I was delighted when Sir Patrick Moore personally replied to a letter of mine on the subject of eclipses.

Next month I will write about the discovery of Neptune and some little known facts.

Readers with questions can write to me at 96 Genoa Court, Roman Way, Andover, SP10 5JD.

Richard J Kidd, Address supplied.