© NASA/JPL/MESSENGER

Mercury at aphelion

Sun, 29 Oct 2017 at08:05 EDT(80 days ago)
12:05 UTC

Dominic Ford, Editor
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Ashburn
The sky at

Mercury's 88-day orbit around the Sun will carry it to its furthest point to the Sun – its aphelion – at a distance of 0.47 AU.

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 exact position of Mercury at the moment it passes aphelion will be:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Angular Size
Mercury 15h04m20s -18°33' Libra 4.9"
Sun 14h14m -13°31' Virgo 32'12"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

From Ashburn (click to change), Mercury will not be observable – it will reach its highest point in the sky during daytime and will be no higher than 1° above the horizon at dusk.

The sky on 29 October 2017
Sunrise 07:33
Sunset 18:12
Twilight ends
19:42
Twilight begins
06:03

10-day old moon
Age of Moon
10 days

All times shown in EDT.
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 08:43 13:42 18:42
Venus 06:05 11:48 17:32
Moon 15:23 20:46 01:09
Mars 04:53 10:54 16:55
Jupiter 07:21 12:45 18:09
Saturn 11:25 16:11 20:56

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

12 Sep 2017, 05:11 EDT  –  Mercury at greatest elongation west
23 Nov 2017, 21:22 EST  –  Mercury at greatest elongation east
01 Jan 2018, 19:40 EST  –  Mercury at greatest elongation west
15 Mar 2018, 06:18 EDT  –  Mercury at greatest elongation east

Image credit

© NASA/JPL/MESSENGER

Ashburn

Latitude:
Longitude:
Timezone:

39.04°N
77.49°W
EST

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