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Close approach of the Moon and Mercury

Dominic Ford, Editor
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The sky at

The Moon and Mercury will make a close approach, passing within 0°25' of each other. The Moon will be 28 days old.

From Cambridge, the pair will be difficult to observe as they will appear no higher than 8° above the horizon. They will be visible in the dawn sky, rising at 05:39 (EDT) – 1 hour and 18 minutes before the Sun – and reaching an altitude of 8° above the south-eastern horizon before fading from view as dawn breaks around 06:36.

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The Moon will be at mag -8.4; and Mercury will be at mag -0.6. Both objects will lie in the constellation Libra.

They 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.

At around the same time, the pair will also share the same right ascension – called a conjunction.

A graph of the angular separation between the Moon and Mercury around the time of closest approach is available here.

The positions of the pair at the moment of closest approach will be as follows:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude Angular Size
The Moon 15h31m50s -17°28' Libra -8.4 32'41"4
Mercury 15h31m40s -17°53' Libra -0.6 5"2

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0. The pair will be at an angular separation of 14° from the Sun, which is in Ophiuchus at this time of year.

The sky on 01 December 2013
Sunrise
06:54
Sunset
16:13
Twilight ends
17:53
Twilight begins
05:14

28-day old moon
Waning Crescent

1%

28 days old

Planets
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 05:37 10:32 15:28
Venus 10:13 14:38 19:03
Moon 05:16 10:16 15:16
Mars 00:39 06:53 13:08
Jupiter 18:53 02:28 09:58
Saturn 04:56 10:03 15:10
All times shown in EST.

Warning

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.

Source

The circumstances of this event were computed using the DE405 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.

Related news

17 Nov 2013  –  Mercury at greatest elongation west
21 Dec 2013  –  Mercury at aphelion
29 Dec 2013  –  Mercury at superior solar conjunction
31 Jan 2014  –  Mercury at greatest elongation east

Image credit

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Cambridge

Latitude:
Longitude:
Timezone:

42.38°N
71.11°W
EDT

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