The planet Mercury, seen just above the transformer lights at center--never an easy target to observe--rises in clear skies around 6:30 AM, Sunday, January 9, 2011. Mercury achieved its greatest elongation (angle from the sun as viewed from Earth) 2 1/2 hours later. The brightest object at upper right is the planet Venus, achieving its greatest elongation the previous day. This early morning view looks southeast along Boyson Road near Timber Oak Place in Marion, Iowa. The air temperature at this hour was -1 degrees F.