© NASA/JPL/MESSENGER

Mercury at perihelion

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 at09:12 EDT(9 days ago)
13:12 UTC

Dominic Ford, Editor
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Mercury's 88-day orbit around the Sun will carry it to its closest point to the Sun – its perihelion – at a distance of 0.31 AU from the Sun.

Unlike most of the planets, which follow almost exactly circular orbits around the Sun only varying in their distance from the Sun by a few percent, Mercury has a significantly elliptical orbit.

Its distance from the Sun varies between 0.307 AU at perihelion (closest approach to the Sun), and 0.467 AU at aphelion (furthest recess from the Sun). This variation, of over 50%, means that its surface receives over twice as much energy from the Sun at perihelion as compared to aphelion.

However, this makes little difference to Mercury's telescopic appearance, since little if any detail on its surface can be resolved by ground-based telescopes. Although its changing seasons have an incredible effect upon its surface temperatures, there is little change that is visible to amateur observers.

The position of Mercury at the moment it passes perihelion will be:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Angular Size
Mercury 05h41m00s +24°09' Taurus 5.1"
Sun 05h52m +23°25' Taurus 31'28"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

From Ashburn (click to change), Mercury will not be readily observable since it will be very close to the Sun, at a separation of only 2° from it.

The sky on 19 June 2017
Sunrise 05:43
Sunset 20:37
Twilight ends
22:37
Twilight begins
03:43

25-day old moon
Age of Moon
25 days

All times shown in EDT.
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 05:31 13:00 20:28
Venus 03:17 10:04 16:51
Moon 02:34 08:54 15:14
Mars 06:31 13:59 21:28
Jupiter 14:16 20:06 02:00
Saturn 20:02 00:53 05:40

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

23 May 2017, 10:35 EDTMercury at dichotomy
21 Jun 2017, 06:36 EDTMercury at greatest brightness
21 Jun 2017, 10:02 EDTMercury at superior solar conjunction
27 Jul 2017, 19:18 EDTMercury at dichotomy

Image credit

© NASA/JPL/MESSENGER

Ashburn

Latitude:
Longitude:
Timezone:

39.04°N
77.49°W
EDT

Color scheme