© NASA/JPL/MESSENGER

Mercury at inferior solar conjunction

Wed, 28 Dec 2016 at13:41 EST(58 days ago)
18:41 UTC

Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Inner Planets feed

Please wait
Loading 0/4
Click and drag to rotate
Mouse wheel to zoom in/out
Touch with mouse to dismiss
The sky at

Mercury will pass very close to the Sun in the sky as its orbit carries it between the Sun and Earth.

This occurs once in every synodic cycle of the planet (116 days), and marks the end of Mercury's apparition in the evening sky and its transition to become a morning object over the next few weeks.

At closest approach, Mercury will appear at a separation of only 2°26' from the Sun, making it totally unobservable for several weeks while it is lost in the Sun's glare.

Mercury will also pass perigee – the time when it is closest to the Earth – at around the same time, since it will lie on exactly the same side of the Sun as the Earth in the Solar System. It will move to within a distance of 0.67 AU from the Earth, making it appear with its largest angular size. If it could be observed, it would measure 10.0 arcsec in diameter, whilst appearing completely unilluminated.

The exact position of Mercury at the moment it passes solar conjunction will be:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Angular Size
Mercury 18h30m50s -20°48' Sagittarius 10.0"
Sun 18h31m -23°14' Sagittarius 32'31"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 28 December 2016
Sunrise: 07:19
Sunset: 16:35
Twilight
from 05:40
until 18:14

29-day old moon
Age of Moon:
29 days

All times shown in EST.
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 07:10 11:57 16:44
Venus 10:03 15:12 20:21
Moon 06:32 11:27 16:22
Mars 10:32 16:01 21:30
Jupiter 01:05 06:44 12:24
Saturn 06:03 10:46 15:29

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

28 Dec 2016, 13:41 ESTMercury at inferior solar conjunction
13 Jan 2017, 17:02 ESTMercury at dichotomy
19 Jan 2017, 08:45 ESTMercury at greatest elongation west
19 Jan 2017, 15:43 ESTMercury at greatest brightness

Image credit

© NASA/JPL/MESSENGER

Newark

Latitude:
Longitude:
Timezone:

40.74°N
74.17°W
EST

Color scheme