“Robert Merry,” the imaginary editor of Robert Merry’s Museum, often kept reader up to date on interesting astronomical phenomena, such as the appearance of Mercury, Venus, the crescent moon, Jupiter, Uranus, and Mars, around May 1, 1871. (A sight as wonderful was photographed 130 years later, as Mercury, Venus, the full moon, Saturn, and Jupiter were visible at once.)

A handful of planets (from Robert Merry’s Museum, June 1871; p. 296)

I wonder whether my correspondent in Connecticut, who is so much interested in the study of astronomy, witnessed the extraordinary display of planets in the heavens the other evening, about the first of May. The planet Mercury—so rarely visible to the naked eye—was plainly seen in the west about half past seven. Just above Mercury was Venus, almost sufficiently brilliant to cast a shadow. Still higher was the crescent of a new moon, and Jupiter. Uranus was near the meridian. In the east, Mars glowed with his red light. Five large planets in the sky at one time, and all nearly in a line. A hundred years may go by without another opportunity to see a sight so extraordinary. Was my correspondent abroad?

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