© NASA/JPL/MESSENGER

Mercury at inferior solar conjunction

Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Inner Planets feed

Objects: Mercury
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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 0°42' 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 0.56 AU from the Earth, making it appear with its largest angular size. If it could be observed, it would measure 11.9 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 02h33m20s 15°47'N Aries 11.9"
Sun 02h34m +15°07' Aries 31'44"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 01 May 2023
Sunrise
05:52
Sunset
19:52
Twilight ends
21:36
Twilight begins
04:04

11-day old moon
Waxing Gibbous

88%

11 days old

Planets
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 05:49 12:50 19:51
Venus 08:01 15:44 23:27
Moon 15:39 22:12 04:30
Mars 10:06 17:41 01:15
Jupiter 05:20 11:55 18:30
Saturn 03:25 08:50 14:14
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 DE430 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.

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29 May 2023  –  Mercury at greatest elongation west
07 Jun 2023  –  Mercury at highest altitude in morning sky
31 Jul 2023  –  Mercury at highest altitude in evening sky

Image credit

© NASA/JPL/MESSENGER

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Longitude:
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41.14°N
73.26°W
EDT

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