Home   News   Article

Rare chance to see Mercury




Mercury
Mercury

Stargazers in south Lincolnshire are set for a treat this month – with a rare chance to see Mercury in the night sky.

Mercury revolves around the Sun in an elliptical orbit with a period of just 88 days and at an average distance from the Sun of approximately 58 million kilometres. Because this is much less than the average distance of Earth from the Sun, Mercury never strays far from the Sun in the sky.

It is always difficult to find in the morning or evening twilight, even when at its greatest angular distance from the Sun.

This year, however, Mercury occupies the same patch of sky, in nearly exactly the same direction, as its much brighter neighbour Venus. The brighter planet, which is easily visible to the unaided eye given clear skies, is a celestial signpost to help find the elusive and much fainter Mercury. Such close alignments of these two inner planets on the sky are quite rare, occurring on average just once every five years or so.

With good weather, that is, a clear, cloudless view of the horizon towards the southwest after sunset, then the two planets can be seen together in the evening twilight between approximately 4.30pm and 5pm.

In order to find Mercury, first identify the bright evening star Venus. Then, preferably using a pair of binoculars, look at Venus. Mercury should be visible in the same field of view, within a degree or so of Venus.



COMMENTS
()


Iliffe Media does not moderate comments. Please click here for our house rules.

People who post abusive comments about other users or those featured in articles will be banned.

Thank you. Your comment has been received and will appear on the site shortly.

 

Terms of Comments

We do not actively moderate, monitor or edit contributions to the reader comments but we may intervene and take such action as we think necessary, please click here for our house rules.

If you have any concerns over the contents on our site, please either register those concerns using the report abuse button, contact us here.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More