The famous astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus first proposed that the sun rather than the earth was at the center of the Solar System. Legend has it that Copernicus never saw the planet Mercury. This is understandable considering that the planet Mercury hugs the horizon even when at its highest elevation in the sky.
Mercury is the closest planet to the sun so it orbits the sun at a brisk pace of only 88 days and receives the greatest concentration of sunlight of all the planets. The temperature on its daylight side reaches a scorching 800 degrees Fahrenheit, while its dark side plunges to a negative 279 degrees Fahrenheit. Mercury has the thinnest atmosphere of all the planets so that its heat does not distribute evenly and explains why the temperature varies so much.
If you were to look at Mercury close up you would see that it resembles our moon with craters, mountains, valleys, and plains.
Tonight if you go outside around 6:45 p.m. and look to the west you may be able to spot Mercury just about two hand widths held at arm's length above the Horizon. It should be visible as a medium bright star until about March 5th when it will disappear from view in the west. A small telescope will show the disc of the planet Mercury.