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Mercury at dichotomy

Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Inner Planets feed

Objects: Mercury
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The sky at

Mercury will reach half phase in its 2020 morning apparition. It will be shining brightly at mag -0.3.

From Fairfield , this apparition will be well placed but tricky to observe, reaching a peak altitude of 15° above the horizon at sunrise on 22 Jul 2020.

Begin typing the name of a town near to you, and then select the town from the list of options which appear below.

The table below lists how high Mercury will appear at sunrise over the course of the apparition. All times are given in Fairfield local time.

Date Sun
rises at
Mercury
rises at
Altitude
at sunrise
Direction
at sunrise
10 Jul 202005:3304:48east
13 Jul 202005:3504:3410°east
16 Jul 202005:3704:2412°east
19 Jul 202005:4004:1613°east
22 Jul 202005:4204:1215°east
25 Jul 202005:4504:1215°east
28 Jul 202005:4804:1615°east
31 Jul 202005:5104:2514°east
03 Aug 202005:5404:3712°east
06 Aug 202005:5704:5210°east
09 Aug 202006:0005:10east

A graph of the phase of Mercury is available here.

Observing Mercury

The 2020 morning apparition of Mercury
30 Jun 2020 – Mercury at inferior solar conjunction
22 Jul 2020 – Mercury at greatest elongation west
24 Jul 2020 – Mercury reaches highest point in morning sky
26 Jul 2020 – Mercury at dichotomy

Mercury's orbit lies closer to the Sun than the Earth's, meaning that it always appears close to the Sun and is lost in the Sun's glare much of the time.

It is observable for only a few weeks each time it reaches greatest separation from the Sun – moments referred to as greatest elongation. These apparitions repeat roughly once every 3–4 months.

Mercury's phase

Mercury's phase varies depending on its position relative to the Earth. When it passes between the Earth and Sun, for example, the side that is turned towards the Earth is entirely unilluminated, like a new moon.

Conversely, when it lies opposite to the Earth in its orbit, passing almost behind the Sun, it appears fully illuminated, like a full moon. However, at this time it is also at its most distant from the Earth, so it is actually fainter than at other times.

Mercury shows an intermediate half phase – called dichotomy – at roughly the same moment that it appears furthest from the Sun, at greatest elongation. The exact times of the two events may differ by a few hours, only because Mercury's orbit is not quite perfectly aligned with the ecliptic.

Mercury's position

The coordinates of Mercury when it reaches dichotomy will be:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Angular Size
Mercury 07h00m20s +21°17' Gemini 7.0"
Sun 08h23m +19°21' Cancer 31'29"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 26 July 2020
Sunrise
05:43
Sunset
20:15
Twilight ends
22:10
Twilight begins
03:48

6-day old moon
Waxing Crescent

36%

6 days old

Planets
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 04:13 11:36 19:00
Venus 02:38 09:50 17:03
Moon 12:33 18:17 00:01
Mars 23:23 05:38 11:50
Jupiter 19:21 00:06 04:45
Saturn 19:47 00:37 05:23
All times shown in EDT.

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

26 Jul 2020  –  Mercury at dichotomy
05 Aug 2020  –  Mercury at perihelion
17 Aug 2020  –  Mercury at superior solar conjunction
18 Sep 2020  –  Mercury reaches highest point in evening sky

Image credit

None available.

Fairfield

Latitude:
Longitude:
Timezone:

41.14°N
73.26°W
EDT

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