Mercury and Mars will share the same right ascension, with Mercury passing 0°18' to the north of Mars.
From Cambridge, the pair will be difficult to observe as they will appear no higher than 9° above the horizon. They will become visible around 17:26 (EDT) as the dusk sky fades, 9° above your south-western horizon. They will then sink towards the horizon, setting 1 hour and 16 minutes after the Sun at 18:23.
Mercury will be at mag -1.0, and Mars at mag 1.2, both in the constellation Aquarius.
The pair will be close enough to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will also be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.
A graph of the angular separation between Mercury and Mars around the time of closest approach is available here.
The positions of the two objects at the moment of conjunction will be as follows:
|Object||Right Ascension||Declination||Constellation||Magnitude||Angular Size|
The coordinates above are given in J2000.0. The pair will be at an angular separation of 15° from the Sun, which is in Capricornus at this time of year.
|The sky on 08 February 2013|
28 days old
All times shown in EST.
Never attempt to point a pair of binoculars or a telescope at an object close to the Sun. Doing so may result in immediate and permanent blindness.
The circumstances of this event were computed using the DE430 planetary ephemeris published by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
This event was automatically generated by searching the ephemeris for planetary alignments which are of interest to amateur astronomers, and the text above was generated based on an estimate of your location.
|24 Jan 2013||– Mars at perihelion|
|17 Apr 2013||– Mars at solar conjunction|
|04 Jun 2013||– Mars at apogee|
|02 Jan 2014||– Mars at aphelion|
The Moon in conjunction with Venus and Jupiter, with the Very Large Telescope in the foreground. Image © Y. Beletsky, ESO, 2009.