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Mercury at inferior solar conjunction

Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Inner Planets feed

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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 3°43' 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 0.64 AU from the Earth, making it appear with its largest angular size. If it could be observed, it would measure 10.6 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 22h28m00s -05°36' Aquarius 10.6"
Sun 22h33m -09°04' Aquarius 32'18"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 25 February 2020
Sunrise
06:27
Sunset
17:28
Twilight ends
19:01
Twilight begins
04:53

2-day old moon
Waxing Crescent

5%

2 days old

Planets
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 06:11 11:55 17:38
Venus 08:04 14:39 21:14
Moon 07:46 13:31 19:16
Mars 03:22 07:52 12:21
Jupiter 04:09 08:45 13:22
Saturn 04:41 09:24 14:06
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

25 Feb 2020  –  Mercury at inferior solar conjunction
18 Mar 2020  –  Mercury reaches highest point in morning sky
22 Mar 2020  –  Mercury at dichotomy
23 Mar 2020  –  Mercury at greatest elongation west

Image credit

None available.

Cambridge

Latitude:
Longitude:
Timezone:

42.38°N
71.11°W
EST

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